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{Portrait ly J- C. Bc>esford. 

Lord 1*"isiiek, lyi;. 
Admiral of the Fleet. 








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••; .♦. ' 

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Readers of this hook will quickly observe that Admiral 
of the Fleet Lord Fisher has small faith in the printed word ; 
and those who have enjoyed the privilege of having '* his 
fist shaken in their faces " will readily admit that the 
printed word, though faithfully taken down from his dicta- 
tion, must lack a large measure of the power — the '* aroma,'' 
as he calls it — which his personality lends to his spoken 

Had Lord Fisher been allowed his own way, there woidd 
have been no Book. Not for the first time in his career, 
the need of serving his country and his country's Navy has 
over-ridden his persotial feeling. These " Memories," there- 
fore, must be regarded as a compromise (" the beastliest 
word in the English language " — see " The Times " of 
September gth, 1919) between the No-Book of Lord 
Fisher's inclination and the orderly, complete Autobiography 
which the public wishes to possess. 
^ The book consists in the main of the author's ipsissima 
§ verba, dictated during the month of September, 1919. 
oQ One or tzvo chapters have been put together from fugitive 
^ writings which Lord Fisher had collected and printed {in 
^ noble and eloquently various type) as a gift to his friends 
^ after his death . The discreeter passages of the letters which 
he wrote to Lord Esher between 1903 and 191 2 illustrate 
some portions of the life's work which — caring little for 
the past and much for the future,^ much for the idea and 
little for the fact — Lord Fisher has successfully declined to 
describe in his own words. 

" This one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and 
reaching forth unto those things which are before, J press toward the 
mark." — Phil, iii, 13, 14. 



^^^|HERE is no planner 
"j^^sequence ! Just as the 
thoughts have arisen 
^^^^^so have they been 
written ordicta ted! Thespoken 
word has not been amended — 
better the fragrance of the 
fresh picked flower than trying 
to get more scent out of it by 
adding hot water afterwards j 
Also it is more life-like to 
have the first impulse of the 
heart than vainly to endeavour 
after studied phrases! Perhaps 
the only curiosity is that I 
begin my life backwards and 

leave my birth and being 
weaned till the end ! 

''The last shall be first'' 

is good for Autobiography ! 

I think a text is a good thing! 
So I adopt the following 
(from R. L. Stevenson) as being 
nice for the young ones to 
read what follows : — 

To be honest, to be kind, to earn 
a little and to spend a little less, to 
make upon the whole a family 
happier for his presence, to renounce 
when that shall be necessary, and not 
be embittered, to keep a few friends 
ha those withoict capitulation^ above 
all on the same grim condition to 
keep friends with himself, here is a 
task for all that a man has of 
fortitude and delicacy. 


Not long ago a gentleman enclosed me the manuscript 
of his book, and asked me for a preface. I had never 
heard of him. He reminded me of Mark Twain in a 
similar case — the gentleman in a postscript asked Mr. 
Twain if he found fish good for the brain ; he had been 
recommended it, he said. Twain replied. Yes ! and he 
suggested his correspondent having whales for breakfast ! 

One gentleman sent me a cheque for two thousand 
guineas, and asked me to let him have a short article, 
on any subject. I returned the cheque — I had never 
heard of him either. I have had some most generous 
offers from publishers. 

Sir George Reid said to me : " Never write an Auto- 
biography. You only know one view of yourself — others 
see you all round." But 1 don't see any harm in such 
" Memories " as I now indite ! In regard to Sir G. 
Reid's observation, there's one side no one else can see, 
and that's " the inside ! " 

Nothing in this Volume in the least approaches the 
idea of a Biography. Facts illumined by letters, and 
the life divided into sections, to be filled in with the 
struggles of the ascent, seems the ideal sort of representa- 
tion of a man's life. A friend once wrote me the requisites 
of a biographer. Three qualifications were : 


(a) Plenty of time for the job. 

(b) A keen appreciation of the work done. 

(c) A devotion to the Hero. 

And, as if it didn't so much matter, he added — the 
biographer should possess a high standard of literary 

But yet I beHeve that the vindication of a man's 
lifework is almost an impossible task for even the most 
intimate of friends or the most assiduous and talented 
of Biographers, simply because they cannot possibly 
appreciate how great deeds have been belittled and 
ravaged by small contemporary men. These yelping 
curs made the most noise, as the empty barrels do ! and 
it's only long afterwards that the truth emerges out of 
the mist of obloquy and becomes history. 

Remember it's only in this century that Nelson has 

come into his own. 


" Sworn to no Party — Of no Sect am I ! 
I can't be silent and I will not lie ! " 

" Time and the Ocean and some Guiding Star 
In High Cabal have made us what we are ! " 




King Edward VII i 


" The Moon Sways Oceans and Provokes the Hound " 22 

Admiral Von Pohl and Admiral von Tirpitz . ■ . . 29 

Economy is Victory 4^ 

The Dardanelles • • 49 

Abdul Hamid and the Pope 9^ 





A Jeu d'Esprit 9« 

Naval War Staff and Admiralty Clerks . . . 102 

Recapitulation of Deeds and Ideas 113 

Apologia pro Vita sua . . 134 

Nelson . 158 

Letters to Lord Esher 165 

Americans . 221 

Some Special Missions 229 




Some Personalities 242 


Things That Please Me 272 

Epilogue 281 

Index . ... 287 


Lord Fisher, 19 17 — Admiral of the Fleet . Frontispiece 

Facing pagt 

King Edward VII. and Lord Fisher .... 16 

Sir John Fisher in " Renown," 1897 .... 33 

Sir John Fisher and Lord Roberts, 1906 . . 48 

The Kingfisher 65 

The First Sea Lord. By William Nicholson . 80 

Admiral of the Fleet Lord Fisher, G.C.B., O.M., 

etc , 1917 97 

Age 14. — ^Iidshipman 112 

Age 19. — Lieutenant 129 

1885. — Age 41. — Post-Captain 144 

1904. — ^Age 63. — Admiral 161 

The Funeral of King Edward VII 192 

The Anniversary of Trafalgar 209 



Facing pa^e 

America and the Blockade 224 

Sir John Fisher at the Hague Peace Conference, 
May, 1899 256 

Commander-in-Chief of the Mediterranean Fleet, 

1899-1902 273 




King Edward had faith in me, and so supported me 
always that it is only natural I should begin this book 
with the remarks about him which I privately printed 
long since for use at my death ; but events have occurred 
to alter that decision and induce me to publish this book. 

There are more intimate touches than those related 
here, which I forbear to publish. There is a limit to 
those peculiar and pregnant little exhibitions of a kind 
heart's purpose being put in print. They lose their 

In the Dictionary of National Biography there is a 
Marginal Heading in the Life of King Edward as follows : 


It is the only personal marginal note ! I now descant 
upon it, not to be egotistical, but to exemplify one of 
the finest traits in King Edward's noble character — 
without doubt I personally could not be of the very least 
service to him in any way, and yet in his belief of my being 
right in the vast and drastic reforms in the Navy he gave 

I B 


me his unfaltering support right through unswervingly, 
though every sycophantic effort was exhausted in the 
endeavour to alienate him from his support of me. He 
quite enjoyed the numberless communications he got, 
and the more outrageous the calumnies the more he 
revelled in my reputed wickedness ! I can't very well 
put some of them on paper, but the Minotaur wasn't in 
it with me ! Also I was a Malay ! I was the son of a 
Cingalese Princess — hence my wicked cunning and 
duplicity ! I had formed a syndicate and bought all 
the land round Rosyth before the Government fixed on 
it as a Naval Base — hence my wealth ! How the King 
enjoyed my showing him my private income as given to 
the Income Tax Commissioners was £382 6s. iid. after 
the legal charges for income tax, annuities, etc., were 
subtracted from the total private income of ,£750 !^ 

But King Edward's abiding characteristic was his 
unfailing intuition in doing the right thing and saying 
the right thing at the right time. I once heard him on 
the spur of the moment make a quite impromptu and 
totally unexpected speech to the notabilities of Malta 
which was simply superb ! Elsewhere I have related his 
visit to Russia when I accompanied him. As Prince 
Orloff said to me, swept away by King Edward's elo- 
quence, " Your King has changed the atmosphere ! " 

1 Sir Julian Corbett, the author of the wonderful " Seven Years' 
War," wrote to me in past vituperative years as follows : 

" Yesterday I was asked if it were really true that you (Sir John Fisher) 
had sold the country to Germany I I was able to assure the questioner 
that the report was at least exaggerated. It is often my fortune to 
be able to quiet minds that have been seriously disturbed by the 
unprecedented slanders that have been the reward of your unpre- 
cedented work." 


King Edward, besides his wonderful likeness to King 
Henry the Eighth, had that great King's remarkable 
attributes of combining autocracy with almost a socialistic 
tie with the masses. I said to His Majesty once : " Sir, 
that was a real low form of cunning on your Majesty's 
part sending to ask after Keir Hardie's stomach-ache ! " 
By Jove, he went for me like a mad bull ! and replied : 
** You don't understand me ! I am the King of ALL the 
People ! No one has got me in their pockets, as some of 
them think they have ! " and he proceeded with names I 
can't quote ! 

Acting on Sir Francis Knollys's example and advice I 
burnt all his letters to me, except one or two purely 
personal in their delightful adherence to Right and 
Justice ! but even these I won't publish ever — they were 
not meant to be seen by others. What anointed cads are 
those who sell Nelson's letters to Lady Hamilton ! letters 
written out of the abundance of his heart and the thank- 
fulness of an emotional nature full of heartfelt gratitude 
to the sympathising woman who dressed his wounds, 
his torn-off scalp after the Nile, and his never-ceasing 
calamity of what is now called neuritis, which was 
for ever wasting his frail body with pain and anguish of 
spirit as it so unfitted him for exertion. 

Here is a letter to King Edward, dated March 14th, 
1908 : 

" With Sir John Fisher's humble duty to your Majesty 
and in accordance with your Majesty's orders, I saw 
Mr. Blank as to the contents of the secret paper sent 
your Majesty, but I did not disclose what makes it so 

3 B 2 


valuable — that it came from a Minister of Foreign Affairs, 
whose testimony is absolutely reliable. 

'* I told Mr. Blank and asked him to forgive my 
presumption in saying it, that we were making a hideous 
mistake in our half measures, which pleased no one and 
thus we perpetuate the fable of ' Perfidious Albion,' 
and that we ought to have thrown in our lot with Russia 
and completely allowed her to fortify the Aland Islands 
as against Sweden and Germany. 

'* For a Naval War against Germany we want Russia 
with us, and we want the Aland Islands fortified. 

*' Germany has got Sweden in her pocket, and they 
will divide Denmark between them in a War against 
Russia and England, and unless our Offensive is quick 
and overwhelming Germany will close the Baltic just 
as effectually as Turkey locks up the Black Sea with the 
possession of the Dardanelles. 

" Russia and Turkey are the two Poivers, and the only 
two Powers, that matter to us as against Germany, and 
that we have eventually to fight Germany is just as sure as 
anything can be, solely because she canH expand com- 
mercially without it. 

" I humbly trust your Majesty will forgive my pre- 
sumption in thus talking Politics, but I know I am right, 
and I only look at it because if we fight we want Russia 
and Turkey on our side against Germany. 

*' With my grateful thanks for your Majesty's letter, 
" I am your Majesty's humble servant, 

''J. A. Fisher." 

^^ March i\th, 1908. 

Note. — -This letter to King Edward followed on a 
previous long secret conversation with his Majesty in 
which I urged that we should " Copenhagen " the German 
Fleet at Kiel a la Nelson, and I lamented that we 
possessed neither a Pitt nor a Bismarck to give the 
order. I have alluded to this matter in my account of 
Mr. Beit's interview with the German Emperor, and the 



German Emperor's indignation with Lord Esher as 
signified in the German Emperor's letter to Lord Tweed- 
mouth that Sir John Fisher was the most dreaded man 
in Germany from the Emperor downwards. 

It must be emphasized that at this moment we had a 
mass of effective Submarines and Germany only had 
three, and we had seven Dreadnoughts fit to fight and 
Germany had none ! 

This proposal of mine having been discarded, all that 
then remained for our inevitable war with Germany was 
to continue the concentration of our whole Naval strength 
in the Decisive Theatre of the War, in Northern Waters, 
which was so unostentatiously carried out that it was 
only Admiral Mahan's article in The Scientific 
American that drew attention to the fact, when he 
said that 88 per cent, of England's guns were pointed at 

I mention another excellent illustration of King 
Edward's fine and magnanimous character though it's to 
my own detriment. He used to say to me often at Big 
Functions : " Have I missed out anyone, do you think ? " 
for he would go round in a most careful way to speak to 
all he should. Just then a certain Admiral approached 
— perhaps the biggest ass I ever met. The King shook 
hands with him and said something I thought quite 
unnecessarily loving to him : when he had gone he 
turned on me like a tiger and said : " You ought to be 
ashamed of yourself ! " I humbly said, '' What 
for?" "Why!" he replied, "when that man 
came up to me your face was perfectly demoniacal ! 
Everyone saw it ! and the poor fellow couldn't kick you 
back ! You're First Sea Lord and he's a ruined man ! 
You've no business to show your hate ! " and the lovely 



thing was that then a man came up I knew the King did 
perfectly hate, and I'm blessed if he didn't smile on him 
and cuddle him as if he was his long-lost brother, and 
then he turned to me afterwards and said with joyful 
revenge, " Well I did you see that ? " Isn't that a Great 
Heart ? and is it to be wondered at that he was so 
Popular ? 

An Australian wrote a book of his first visit to England. 
He was on a horse omnibus sitting alongside the 'Bus 
Driver — suddenly he pulled up the horses with a jerk ! 
The Australian said to him, '' What's up ? " The 
Driver said, " Don't you see ? " pointing to a single 
mounted policeman riding in front of a one-horse 
brougham. The Australian said, " What is it ? " The 
'Bus Driver said, *' It's the King ! " The Australian 
said, " Where's the escort ? " thinking of cavalry and 
outriders and equerries that he had read of ! The 'Bus 
Driver turned and looked on the Australian with a con- 
temptuous regard and said : '' Hescourt ? 'e wants no 
Hescourt ! Nobody will touch a 'air of 'is 'ead ! " The 
Australian writes that fixed him up as regards King 
Edward ! 

His astounding memory served King Edward beauti- 
fully. Once he beckoned me up to him, having finished 
his tour round the room, to talk about something and 
I said : '* Sir, the new Japanese Ambassador is just 
behind you and I don't believe your Majesty has spoken 
to His Excellency." The King instantly turned round 
and said these very words straight off. I remember them 
exactly ; he took my breath away : *' My dear Am- 



bassador, do let me shake you by the hand and con- 
gratulate you warmly on the splendid achievement 
yesterday of your wonderful country in launching a 
* Dreadnought ' so completely home-produced in every 
way, guns, armour engines, and steel, etc. Kindly convey 
my admiration of this splendid achievement ! " 

I remembered then that in the yesterday's paper there 
had been an account of the great rejoicings in Japan on 
the launch of this '* Dreadnought." The sequel is good. 
The Japanese Ambassador sought me later in the evening 
and said : "Sir John ! it was kind of you to remind the 
King about the ' Dreadnought ' as it enables me to send a 
much coveted recognition to Japan in the King's words ! " 
I said : " My dear Ambassador, I never said a word to 
the King, and I am truly and heartily ashamed that as 
First Sea Lord it never occurred to me to congratulate 
you on what the King has truly designated as a splendid 
feat ! " 

I expect the Ambassador spent a young fortune in 
sending out a telegram to Japan, and do you wonder that 
King Edward was a Cosmopolitan Idol ? 

Another occasion to illustrate his saying out of his 
heart always the right thing at the right time. I was 
journeying with His Majesty from Biarritz to Toulon — 
I was alone with him in his railway carriage, there was a 
railway time table before him. The train began un- 
expectedly to slow down, and he said " Hulloa ! why are 
we stopping ? " I said, " Perhaps, your Majesty, the 
engine wants a drink ! " so we stopped at a big station 
we were to have passed through — the masses of people 



shouted not "Vive le Roi ! " but " EDOUARD ! " 

(As the Governor of the Bank of France said to a friend 
of mine, " If he stays in France much longer we shall 
have him as our King ! When's he going ? "). Sir Stanley 
Clarke I saw get out and fetch the Prefect and the General 
in Command to the King — the King got out, said some- 
thing sweet to the Prefect and then turned to the General 
and said with quite unaffected delight, "Oh, Mon 
General ! How delightful to meet you again ! how 
glorious was that splendid regiment of yours, the — th 
Regiment of Infantry, which I inspected 20 years ago ! " 
If I ever saw Heaven in a man's face, that General had 
it ! He was certainly a most splendid looking man and 
not to be forgotten, but yet it was striking the King 
coming out with his immediate remembrance of him. 
Well ! that incident you may be sure went through the 
French Army, and being a conscript nation, it went into 
every village of France ! Do you wonder he was loved 
in France ? And yet the King had the simplicity and 
even the weaknesses of a child, and sometimes the petu- 
lance thereof. He gave me a lovely box of all sizes of 
rosettes of the Legion of Honour adapted to each kind of 
uniform coat, and he added, " Always wear this in France 
— I find it aids me very much in getting about ! " As if 
he wasn't as well known in all France as the Town Pump ! 
These are the sweet incidents that illustrate his nature I 
He went to a lunch at Marienbad with some great 
swells who were there who had invited His Majesty to 
meet a party of the King's friends from Carlsbad, where 
I was — I wasn't asked — being an arranged snub ! A 



looker-on described the scene to me. The King came 
in and said " How d'ye do " all round and then said to 
the Host, " Where's the Admiral ? " My absence was 
apologised for — lunch was ready and announced. The 
King said, " Excuse me a moment, I must write him a 
letter to say how sorry I am at the oversight," so he left 
them stewing in their own juice, and His Majesty's letter 
to me was lovely — I've kept that one. He began by 

d ing the pen and then the blotting paper ! — there 

were big blots and smudges ! He came back and gave 
the letter to my friend and said, " See he gets it directly 
you get back to Carlsbad to-night." 

Once at a very dull lunch party given in his honour I 
sat next King Edward and said to His Majesty : " Pretty 
dull, Sir, this — hadn't I better give them a song ? " He 
was delighted ! (he always did enjoy everything !) so I 
recited (but, of course, I can't repeat the delicious 
Cockney tune in writing, so it loses all its aroma !). 
Two tramps had been camping out (as was their usual 
custom) in Trafalgar Square. They appear on the stage 
leaning against each other for support ! — too much beer ! 
They look upwards at Nelson on his monument, and in 
an inimitable and " beery " voice they each sing : 

" We live in Trafalgar Square, with four Lions to guard us. 

Fountains and statues all over the place ! 

The ' Metropole ' staring us right in the face ! 
We own it's a trifle draughty — but we don't want to make no fuss ! 
What's good e-nough for Nelson is good e-nough for us ! " 

On another occasion I was driving with him alone, and 
utterly carried away by my feelings, I suddenly stood up 
in the carriage and waved to a very beautiful woman 



who I thought was in America ! The King was awfully 
angry, but I made it much worse by saying I had forgotten 
all about him ! But he added, " Well ! find out where 
she lives and let me know," and he gave her little child a 
sovereign and asked her to dinner, to my intense joy ! 

On a classic occasion at Balmoral, when staying with 
King Edward, I unfolded a plan, much to his delight 
(now that masts and sails are extinct), of fusing the Army 
into the Navy — an " Army and Navy co-operative 
society." And my favourite illustration has always 
been the magnificent help of our splendid soldiers at 
the Battle of Cape St. Vincent, where a Sergeant of the 
69th Regiment was the first to board the Spanish three- 
decker, " San Josef," and he turned then round to help 
Lord Nelson,' who, with his one arm, found it difficult 
to get through the stern port of the " San Josef " again. 
In Lord Howe's victory two Regiments participated — - 
the Queen's Royal West Surrey Regiment (formerly 
the 2nd Foot) and the Worcestershire Regiment (formerly 
the 29th and 36th Regiment). Let us hope that the 
Future will bring us back to that good old practice ! 
This was the occasion when I was so carried away by the 
subject that I found myself shaking my fist in the King's 
face ! 

Lord Denbigh, in a lecture he gave at the Royal Colonial 
Institute, related an incident which he quite correctly 
stated had hitherto been a piece of diplomatic secret 
history, and it is how I got the Grand Cordon of the 
Legion of Honour, associated with a lovely episode with 
King Edward of blessed memor}'. 



In 1906, at Madeira, the Germans first took an hotel ; 
then they wanted a Convalescent Home ; and finally 
put forth the desire to establish certain vested interests. 
They imperiously demanded certain concessions from 
Portugal. The most significant of these amounted to a 
coaling station isolated and fortified. The German 
Ambassador at Lisbon called on the Portuguese Prime 
Minister at 10 o'clock one Saturday night and said that 
if he didn't get his answer by 10 o'clock the next night 
he should leave. The Portuguese sent us a telegram. 
That night we ordered the British Fleet to move. The 
next morning the German Ambassador told the Portu- 
guese Prime Minister that he had made a mistake in the 
cipher, and he was awfully sorry but he wasn't going ; 
it was all his fault, he said, and he had been reprimanded 
by his Government. (As if any German had ever yet 
made a mistake with a telegram !) 

To resume about the Grand Cordon of the Legion of 
Honour. The French Official statement when conveying 
to me the felicitations of the President of the French 
Republic was that I had the distinction of being at that 
time the only living Englishman who had received this 
honour, but the disaster that had been averted by the 
timely action of the British Fleet deserved it. So that 
evening, on meeting King Edward, I told His Majesty 
of the quite unexpected honour that I had received, and 
that I had been informed that I was the only Englishman 
that had got it, on which the King said : " Excuse me 
I've got it ! " Then, alas, I made a faux pas and said 
*' Kings don't count ! " And no more do they ! He 



got it because certainly they all loved him in the first 
place, and secondly, President Loubet couldn't help it, 
while if it hadn't been for the British Fleet on this occasion 
the Germans would have been in Paris in a week, and if 
the Germans had known as much as they do now they 
would have been ! 

I don't mean to urge that King Edward was in any 
way a clever man. I'm not sure that he could do the rule 
of three, but he had the Heavenly gift of Proportion and 
Perspective ! Brains never yet moved the Masses — but 
Emotion and Earnestness will not only move the Masses, 
but they will remove Mountains ! As I told Queen 
Alexandra on seeing his dear face (dead) for the last time, 
his epitaph is the great words of Pascal in the " Pensees " 
(Chapter ix, 19) : 

" Le coeur a ses raisons 
Que la raison ne connait point." 

(" The heart has reasons that reason knows nothing 

about " !) 

He was a noble man and every inch a King ! God 
Bless Him ! I don't either say he was a Saint ! I know 
lots of cabbages that are saints !— they couldn't sin if 
they wanted to ! 


It suddenly occurred to me to send these notes on 
King Edward to Lord Esher as he had peculiar oppor- 
tunities of realizing King Edward's special qualities as 
a King, and realized how much there was in him of the 



Tudor gift of being an autocrat and yet being loved of 
the people ! 

Lord Esher to Lord Fisher 

Roman Camp, 

Callander, N.B. 

July 30, 1918. 

My dear Admiral, 

The pages are wonderful, because they are you. 

Not a square inch of pose about them. 

Tears ! that was the result of reading what you have 
to say about King Edward. But do you recollect our 
talk with him on board the Royal Yacht about France 
and Germany ? Surely that was worth recording. 

■ I have kept many of his letters. They show him to 
have been one of the '* cleverest " of men. He had 
never depended upon book-learning — why should he ? 

He read, not books — but men and women — and jolly 
good reading too ! 

But he knew everything that it was requisite a King 
should know — unless Learning prepares a man for 
action, it is not of much value in this work-a-day world : 
and no Sovereign since the Tudors was so brave and wise 
in action as this King ! 

Your anecdotes of him are splendid. Add to them all 
that you can remember. 

It was a pleasure to be scolded by the King for the 
sake of the smile you subsequently got. 

The most awful time I ever had with him was at 
Balmoral when I refused to be Secretary of State for 
War. But I beat him on that, thank God ! 

Ever yours, 

My beloved Admiral, 




Letter from Lord Redesdale 

I Kensington Court, W. 

May 24, 1915. 

My Dear Fisher, 

Do me the favour of accepting this little attempt to 
render justice to the best friend you ever had. (King 
Edward the Seventh.) 

You and he were worthy of one another. Your old 
and very affectionate friend, 


The following letter, written in 1907, would never 
have been penned but for the kindly intimacy and 
confidence placed and reposed in me by King Edward ; 
it therefore rightly comes in these remarks about him ; 
and so does the subsequent explanatory note on " Nelson 
and Copenhagen.' 


Extract from a Letter from Sir John Fisher to 

King Edward 

I have just received Reich's book. It is one unmiti- 
gated mass of misrepresentations. 

In March this year, 1907, it is an absolute fact that 
Germany had not laid down a single " Dreadnought," 
nor had she commenced building a single Battleship or 
Big Cruiser for eighteen months. 

Germany has been paralysed by the '* Dreadnought ^ 

The more the German Admiralty looked into her 
qualities the more convinced they became that they must 



follow suit, and the more convinced they were that the 
whole of their existing Battle Fleet was utterly useless 
because utterly wanting in gun power ! For instance, 
half of the whole German Battle Fleet is only about equal 
to the English Armoured Cruisers. 

The German Admiralty wrestled with the " Dread- 
nought " problem for eighteen months, and did nothing. 
Why } Because it meant their spending twelve and a 
half million sterling on widening and deepening the Kiel 
Canal, and in dredging all their harbours and all the 
approaches to their harbours, because if they did not do 
so it would be no use building German " Dreadnoughts " 
because they could not float ! But there was another 
reason never yet made public. It is this : Our Battle- 
ships draw too much water to get close into the German 
Coast and harbours (we have to build ours big to go all 
over the world with great fuel endurance). But the 
German Admiralty is going, is indeed obHged, to spend 
twelve and a half million sterling in dredging so as to 
allow these existing ships of ours to go and fight them in 
their own waters when before they could not do so. It 
was, indeed, a Machiavellian interference of Providence 
on our behalf that brought about the evolution of the 
'' Dreadnought." 

To return to Mr. Reich. He makes the flesh of the 
British pubHc creep at page 78 et seq., by saying what 
the Germans are going to do. He does not say what 
they have done and what we have done. 

Now this is the truth : England has seven '* Dread- 
noughts " and three *' Dreadnought " Battle Cruisers 
(which last three ships are, in my opinion, far better 
than '' Dreadnoughts ") ; total, ten " Dreadnoughts " 
built and building, while Germany, in March last, had 
not begun even one " Dreadnought." It is doubtful if, 
even so late as May last, a German '* Dreadnought " had 
been commenced. It will therefore be seen, from this 
one fact, what a liar Mr. Reich is. 



Again, at page 86, he makes out the Germans are 
stronger than we are in torpedo craft, and states 
that England has only 24 fully commissioned 

Again, what are the real facts ? As stated in an 
Admiralty official document, dated August 22nd, 1907 : 
" We have 123 Destroyers and 40 Submarines. The 
Germans have 48 Destroyers and i Submarine." 

The whole of our Destroyers and Submarines are 
absolutely efficient and ready for instant battle and are 
fully manned, except a portion of the Destroyers, which 
have four-fifths of their crew on board. Quite enough 
for instant service, and can be filled up under an hour to 
full crew. And they are all of them constantly being 

There is one more piece of information I have to give : 
Admiral Tirpitz, the German Minister of Marine, has 
just stated, in a secret official document, that the English 
Navy is now four times stronger than the German Navy. 
Yes, that is so, and we are going to keep the British Navy 
at that strength, vide ten " Dreadnoughts " built and 
building, and not one German " Dreadnought " corn- 
menced last May. But we don't want to parade all this 
to the world at large. Also we might have Parliamentary 
trouble. A hundred and fifty members of the House of 
Commons have just prepared one of the best papers I 
have ever read, shewing convincingly that we don't 
want to lay down any new ships at all because we are so 
strong. My answer is : We can't be too strong. Sir 
Charles Dilke, in the United Service Magazine for this 
month, says : ''Sir George Clarke points out that the 
Navy is now, in October, 1907, stronger than at any 
previous time in all History," and he adds that Sir 
George Clarke, in making this printed statement, makes 
it with the full knowledge of all the secrets of the Govern- 
ment, because, as Secretary of the Committee of Imperial 
Defence, he, Sir George Clarke, has access to every bit 


King Edward VII. (who died May 6th, iqio) 

SAYING Good-bye to Lord Fisher, First Sea 

Lord, igio. 

(Lord Fisher 69, so also the King.) 

N.B. — The King thought the 1S41 vintage very 
gocd. Certainly good men were torn that year! 


of information that exists in regard to our own and foreign 
Naval strength. 

In conclusion, a letter in The Times of September 17th, 
1907, should be read. The writer of the letter under- 
states the case, as the British Home Fleet is twenty per 
cent, stronger than he puts it. 

As regards Mr. Reich's Naval statements, they are a 
rechauffe of the mendacious drivel of a certain English 
newspaper. I got a letter last night from a trustworthy 
person a propos of these virulent and persistent news- 
paper attacks as to the weakness of the Navy, stating that 
the recent inspection of the Fleet by Your Majesty has 
knocked the bottom out of the case against the Admiralty. 

I don't mean to say that we are not now menaced by 
Germany. Her diplomacy is, and always has been, and 
always will be, infinitely superior to ours. Observe our 
treatment of the Sultan as compared with Germany. 
The Sultan is the most important personage in the whole 
world for England. He lifts his finger, and Egypt and 
India are in a blaze of religious disaffection. That great 
American, Mr. Choate, swore to me before going to the 
Hague Conference that he would side with England over 
submarine mines and other Naval matters, but Germany 
has diplomatically collared the United States absolutely 
at The Hague. 

The only thing in the world that England has to fear is 
Germany y and none else. 

We have no idea, at the Foreign Office, of coping with 
the German propaganda in America. Our Naval Attache 
in the United States tells me that the German Emperor 
is unceasing in his efforts to win over the American Official 
authorities, and that the German Embassy at Washington 
is far and away in the ascendant with the American 

I hope I shall not be considered presumptuous in 

17 G 


saying all this. I humbly confess I am neither a diploma- 
tist nor a politician. I thank God I am neither. The 
former are senile, and the latter are liars. But it all 
does seem such simple common sense to me that for our 
Army we require mobile troops as against sedentary 
garrisons, and that our military intervention in any very 
great Continental struggle is unwise, remembering what 
Napoleon said on that point with such emphasis and such 
sure conception of war, and that great combined Naval 
and Military expeditions should be our role. In the 
splendid words of Sir Edward Grey : *' The British Army 
should be a projectile to be fired by the British Navy." 
The foundation of our policy is that the communica- 
tions of the Empire must be kept open by a predominant 
Fleet, and ipso facto such a Fleet will suffice to allay the 
fears of the " old women of both sexes " in regard to the 
invasion of England or the invasion of her Colonies. 

Nelson's Copenhagen 

In May, 1907, England had seven " Dreadnoughts " 
ready for battle, and Germany had not one. And 
England had flotillas of submarines peculiarly adapted 
to the shallower German waters when Germany had 

Even in 1908 Germany only had four submarines. 
At that time, in the above letter I wrote to King Edward, 
I approached His Majesty, and quoted certain apposite 
sayings of Mr. Pitt about dealing with the probable enemy 
before he got too strong. It is admitted that it was not 
quite a gentlemanly sort of thing for Nelson to go and 
destroy the Danish Fleet at Copenhagen without notice, 
but " la raison du plus fort est toujours la meilleure." 

Therefore, in view of the known steadfast German 



purpose, as always unmitigatedly set forth by the German 
High Authority that it was Germany's set intention to 
make even England's mighty Navy hesitate at sea, it 
seemed to me simply a sagacious act on England's part 
to seize the German Fleet when it was so very easy of 
accomplishment in the manner I sketched out to His 
Majesty, and probably without bloodshed. But, alas ! 
even the very whisper of it excited exasperation against 
the supposed bellicose, but really peaceful. First Sea 
Lord, and the project was damned. At that time, 
Germany was peculiarly open to this " peaceful penetra- 
tion." A new Kiel Canal, at the cost of many, many 
millions, had been rendered necessary by the advent of 
the " Dreadnought " ; but worse still for the Germans, 
it was necessary for them to spend further vast millions 
in deepening not only the approaches to the German 
Harbours, but the Harbours themselves, to allow the 
German " Dreadnoughts," when built, to be able to 
float. In doing this, the Germans were thus forced to 
arrange that thirty-three British pre-" Dreadnoughts " 
should be capable of attacking their shores, which shallow 
water had previously denied them. Such, therefore, 
was the time of stress and unreadiness in Germany that 
made it peculiarly timely to repeat Nelson's Copen- 
hagen. Alas ! we had no Pitt, no Bismarck, no Gam- 
betta ! And consequently came those terrible years of 
War, with millions massacred and maimed and many 
millions more of their kith and kin with pierced hearts 
and bereft of all that was mortal for their joy. 

19 c 2 


Queen Alexandra, Lord Knollys, and Sir Dighton 


At the end of these short and much too scant memories 
of him whom Lord Redesdale rightly calls in the letter I 

printed above 

" The best friend you ever had," 

I can't but allude to a Trio forming so great a part of his 
Glory. Not to name them here would be " King Edward 
— an Unreality." I could not ask Queen Alexandra for 
permission either to print her Letters or her Words, but 
I am justified in printing how her steadfast love, and faith, 
and wonderful loyalty and fidelity to her husband have 
proved how just is the judgment of Her Majesty by the 
Common People — " the most loved Woman in the whole 

And then Lord Knollys and Sir Dighton Probyn, those 
two Great Pillars of Wisdom and Judgment, who so 
reminded me, as they used to sit side by side in the Royal 
Chapel, of those two who on either side held up the arms 
of Moses in fighting the Amalekites : 

" And Aaron and Hur stayed up his hands, 
The one on the one side, and the other on the other side ; 
And his hands were steady until the going down of the sun." 

Yes ! King Edward's hands were held steady till the 
setting of his sun on May 6th, 19 lo, and so did he 
discomfit his enemies by their aid." 




For over forty years Lord Knollys played that great 
part in great affairs which will occupy his Biographer 
with Admiration of his Self-Effacement and unerring 
Judgment. Myself I owe him gratitude inexpressible. 

For myself, those Great Three ever live in my heart 
and ever will. 

There are no such that I know of who are left to us to 
rise in their place 





The hound keeps baying at the moon but gets no 
answer from her, and she continues silently her mighty 
influence in causing the tides of the earth, such a mighty 
influence as I have seen in the Bay of Fundy, and on the 
coast of Arcadia where the tide rises some 40 feet — ^you 
see it like a high wall rolling in towards you on the beach ! 
It exalts one, and the base things of earth vanish from 
one's thoughts. So also may the contents of this book be 
like-minded by a mighty silence against baying hounds ! 
I hope to name no living name except for praise, and 
even against envy I hope I may be silent. Envy caused 
the first murder. It was the biggest and nastiest of all 
Caesar's wounds : 

" See what a rent the envious Casca made." 

My impenetrable armour is Contempt and Fortitude. 

Well, yesterday September 7th, 19 19, we completed 
our conversations for the six articles in The Times , and 
to-day we begin this book with similar talks. 

My reluctance to this book being published before my 
death is increasingly definite ; but I have put my hand 



to the plough, because of the overbearing argument that 
I cannot resist, that I shall be helping to 
{a) Avoid national bankruptcy. 

(b) Avert the insanity and wickedness of building a 
Navy against the United States. 

(c) Establish a union with America, as advocated by 
John Bright and Mr. Roosevelt. 

(d) Enable the United States and British Navies to say 
to all other Navies " If you build more, we will fight you, 
here and now. We'll ' Copenhagen ' you, without 

This is why I have consented, with such extreme 
reluctance, to write letters to The Times and 
dictate six articles ; and having thus entered into the 
fight, I follow the advice of Polonius — Vestigia nulla 
retrorsum. And so, to-day, I will begin this book — not 
an autobiography, but a collection of memories of a life- 
long war against limpets, parasites, sycophants, and jelly- 
fish — at one time there were 19 J millions sterling of 'em. 
At times they stung ; but that only made me more relent- 
less, ruthless and remorseless. 

Why I so hate a book, and those articles in The 
Times, and even the letters, is that the printed word 
never can convey the virtue of the soul. The aroma 
is not there — it evaporates when printed — a scentless 
product, flat and stale like a bad bottle of champagne. 
It is like an embalmed corpse. Personality, which is the 
soul of man, is absent from the reader. It is a man's 
personality that is the living thing, and in the other world 
that is the thing you will meet. I have often asked 



ecclesiastics — " What period of life will the resurrected 
body represent ? " It has always been a poser for them ! 
There will not be any bodies, thank God ! we have had 
quite enough trouble with them down below here. 
St. Paul distinctly says that it is a spiritual body in the 
Resurrection. It is our Personalities that will talk to 
each other in Heaven. I don't care at what age of a 
man's life, even when toothless and decrepit and in- 
distinguishable as he may then be, yet like another Rip 
Van Winkle, when he speaks you know him. However, 
that's a digression. 

What I want to rub in is this : The man who reads this 
in his arm-chair in the Athenaeum Club would take it all 
quite differently if I could walk up and down in front of 
him and shake my fist in his face. 

(It was a lovely episode this recalls to my mind. King 
Edward — God bless him ! — said to me once in one of 
my moments of wild enthusiasm : " Would you kindly 
leave off shaking your fist in my face ? ") 

I tried once, so as to make the dead print more lifelike, 
using different kinds of type — big Roman block letters 
for the " fist-shaking," large italics for the cajoling, small 
italics for the facts, and ordinary print for the fool. 
The printer's price was ruinous, and the effect ludicrous. 
But I made this compromise and he agreed to it — when- 
ever the following words occurred they were to be printed 
in large capitals : " Fool," *' Ass," " Congenital Idiot." 
Myself, I don't know that I am singular, but I seldom 
read a book. I look at the pages as you look at a picture, 
and grasp it that way. Of course, I know what the skunks 



will say when they read this — " Didn't I tell you he was 
superficial ? and here he is judged out of his own mouth." 
I do confess to having only one idea at a time, and King 
Edward found fault with me and said it would be my 
ruin ; so I replied : *' Anyhow, I am stopping a fortnight 
with you at Balmoral, and I never expected that when I 
entered the Navy, penniless, friendless, and forlorn ! " 
Besides, didn't Solomon and Mr. Disraeli both say that 
whatever you did you were to do it with all your might ? 
You can't do more than one thing at a time with all your 
might — that's Euclid. Mr. Disraeli added something to 
Solomon — he said " there was nothing you couldn't have 
if only you wanted it enough." And such is my only 
excuse for whatever success I have had. I have only 
had one idea at a time. Longo intervallo, I have been a 
humble, and I endeavoured to be an unostentatious, 
follower of our Immortal Hero. Some venomous reptile 
(his name has disappeared — I tried in vain to get hold of 
it at Mr. Maggs's bookshop only the other day) called 
Nelson " vain and egotistical." Good God ! if he 
seemed so, how could he help it ? Some nip-cheese 
clerk at the Admiralty wrote to him for a statement of 
his services, to justify his being given a pension for his 
wounds. His arm off, his eye out, his scalp torn off at 
the Nile — that clerk must have known that quite well 
but it elicited a gem. Let us thank God for that clerk ! 
How this shows one the wonderful working of the 
Almighty Providence, and no doubt whatever that fools 
are an essential feature in the great scheme of creation. 
Why ! — didn't some geese cackling save Rome ? Nelson 



told this clerk he had been in a hundred fights and he 
enumerated his wounds ; and his letter lives to illumine 

his fame. 

The Almighty has a place for nip-cheese clerks as 
much as for the sweetest wild flower that perishes in a 


It is really astounding that Nelson's life has not 
yet been properly written. All that has been 
written is utterly unrepresentative of him. The 
key-notes of his being were imagination, audacity, 


He never flogged a man. (One of my first Captains 
flogged every man in the ship and was tried for cruelty, but 
being the scion of a noble house he was promoted to a 
bigger ship instead of being shot.) It oozed out of Nelson 
that he felt in himself the certainty of effecting what to 
other men seemed rash and even maniacal rashness ; and 
this involved his seeming vain and egotistical. Like 
Napoleon's presence on the field of battle that meant 
40,000 men, so did the advent of Nelson in a fleet (this 
is a fact) make every common sailor in that fleet as sure 
of victory as he was breathing. I have somewhere a 
conversation of two sailors that was overheard and taken 
down after the battle of Trafalgar, which illustrates what 
I have been saying. Great odds against 'em— but going 
into action the odds were not even thought of, they were 
not dreamt of, by these common men. Nelson's presence 
was victory. However, I must add here that he hated 
the word Victory. What he wanted was Annihilation. 
That Crowning Mercy (as Cromwell would have called 



it), the battle of the Nile, deserves the wonderful pen of 
Lord Rosebery, but he won't do it. Warburton in 
" The Crescent and the Cross " gives a faint inkling of 
what the glorious chronicle should be. For two years, 
that frail body of his daily tormented with pain (he 
was a martyr to what they now call neuritis — I believe 
they called it then " tic douloureux "), he never put his 
foot outside his ship, watching off Toulon. The Lord 
Mayor and Citizens of London sent him a gold casket 
for keeping the hostile fleet locked up in Toulon. He 
wrote back to say he would take the casket, but he never 
wanted to keep the French Fleet in harbour ; he wanted 
them to come out. But he did keep close in to Toulon 
for fear of missing them coming out in darkness or in 
a fog. 

In his two years off Toulon Nelson only made £6,000 
of prize money, while it was a common thing for the 
Captain of a single man-of-war off the Straits of Gibraltar 
to make a haul of £20,000, and Prize-Money Admirals 
in crowds basked in Bath enriched beyond the dreams 
of avarice. Nelson practically died a pauper. 

Now this is another big digression which I must 
apologise for, but that's the damnable part of a book. 
If one could walk up and down and talk to someone, 
it never strikes them as incongruous having a 

I wind up this chapter, as I began it, with the fervent 
intention of avoiding any reference to those who have 
assailed me. I will only print their affectionate letters 
to me, for which I still retain the most affectionate 



feelings towards them. I regret now that on one occasion 
I did so far lose my self-control as to tell a specific Judas 
to take back his thirty pieces of silver and go and hang 
himself. However, eventually he did get hanged, so 
it was all right. 




Yesterday, September 8th, 1919 (I must put this 
date down because yesterday in a telegram I called 
von Tirpitz a liar) I got an enquiry whether it was 
correct that in 1909, as stated by Admiral von Tirpitz, 
I, as First Sea Lord of the Admiralty, engineered a 
German Naval Scare in England in order to get bigger 
British Naval estimates — and that I had said this to the 
German Naval Attache. I replied " Tell Tii-pitz — 
using the immortal words of Dr. Johnson — * you lie 
Sir, and you know it ! ' " Now, first of all, could I 
possibly have told the German Naval Attache such a 
thing if I possessed the Machiavellian nature which 
is inferred by Tirpitz ? 

Secondly, there was a vast multitude of acute domestic 
enemies too closely watching me to permit any such 

This affords an opportunity of telling you some very 
interesting facts about Tirpitz. They came to be known 
through the widow of Admiral von Pohl (who had been 
at the German Admiralty and commanded the German 



High Sea Fleet) interviewing a man who had been a 
prisoner at Ruhleben. He relates a conversation with 
Frau von Pohl, and he mentions her being an intimate 
friend of the German ex-Crown Princess, and as being 
extremely intelligent. Frau von Pohl had been reading 
Lord Jellicoe's book, and said to the ex-Ruhleben 
prisoner : " How strange is the parallel between Germany 
and Britain, that in both Navies the Admirals were in 
a stew as to the failings of their respective fleets." So 
much so on the German side, she said, that the German 
Fleet did not consider itself ready to fight till two months 
before the battle of Jutland, and the Germans till then 
lived in a constant fever of trepidation. These were the 
questions she heard. " ' Why do the English not attack ? 
Will the English attack to-morrow ? ' ^ These questions 
we asked ourselves hourly. We felt like crabs in the 
process of changing their shells. Apparently our secret 
never oozed out." She put the inefficiency of the 
German Fleet all down to Tirpitz, and said that if any 
man deserved hanging it was he. Admiral von Pohl 
was supposed to have committed suicide through de- 
jection. If all this be true, how it does once more 
illuminate that great Nelsonic maxim of an immediate 
Offensive in war ! Presumably Frau von Pohl had good 
information ; and she added : " The only reason 
Tirpitz was not dismissed sooner was lest the British 
should suspect from his fall something serious was the 
matter, and attack at once."- Part of her interview 

^ See letters at end of this chapter. 

* On hearing of von Tirpitz's dismissal I perpetrated the following 
letter, which a newspaper contrived to print in one of its editions. 



is of special interest, as it so reminded me of my deciding 
on Scapa Flow as the base for the fleet. For as Frau 
von Pohl states, its speciality was that the German 
Destroyers could not get to Scapa Flow and back at 
full speed. Their fuel arrangements were inadequate 
for such a distance. " My husband," she said, " was 
called out by the Emperor to put things right, but was 
in a constant state of trepidation." Alas ! trepidation 
was on our side also, for in a book written by a Naval 
Lieutenant he says how a German submarine was 
supposed to have got inside Scapa. ^ As a matter of fact, 
it was subsequently discovered that a torpedo had 
rolled out of its tube aboard one ot our Destroyers and 
passed close to H.M.S. " Leda," who quite properly 
reported ** a torpedo has passed under my stern." This 
caused all the excitement. 

I can't say why, but it didn't appear any more, nor was it copied by 
any other paper ! 

Dear Old Tirps, 

We are both in the same boat 1 What a time we've been colleagues, 
old boy I However, we did you in the eye over the Battle Cruisers 
and I know you've said you'll never forgive me for it when bang went 
the " Blucher " and von Spee and all his host 1 

Cheer up, old chap 1 Say " Resurgam " ! You're the one German 
sailor who understands War ! Kill your enemy without being kiUed 
yourself. / don't blame you for the submarine business. I'd have done 
the same myself, only our idiots in England wouldn't believe it when I 
told 'em t 

Well 1 So long 1 

Yours till hell freezes, 



I say ! Are you sure if you had tripped out with your whole High 
Sea Fleet before the Russian ice thawed and brought over those half-a- 
miUion soldiers from Hamburg to frighten our old women that you 
could have got back un-Jellicoed ? 


1 "A Naval Lieutenant, 1914-1918," by Etienne, 1919, pp. 48 et seq. 



Admiral von Pohl succeeded Admiral von Ingenohl 
as Commander-in-Chief of the German High Sea Fleet. 
It has not much bearing on what I have been saying, 
but it is interesting that Frau von Pohl said that the 
wife of the German Minister of the Interior had told 
her that her husband, on November 6th, five days 
before the Armistice, had talked to the Emperor of the 
truth as to the German inferiority. The Emperor 
listened, first with amazement, and then with incredulity, 
and ultimately in a passion of rage called him a madman 
and an arrogant fool, and turned him out in fury from 
his presence. This is not quite on all fours with 
Ludendorft', but Ludendorff may have been confining 
himself strictly to the fighting condition of the Army ; 
and without doubt he was right there, for General 
Plumer told me himself he had the opportunity of 
bearing personal testimony to the complete efficiency 
of the German Army at the moment of the Armistice. 
Plumer was, it may be observed, rightly accorded the 
honour of leading the British Army into Cologne. 

The man who contemplates all the things that may 
be somewhat at fault and adds up his own war deficiencies 
with that curious failure of judgment to realise that his 
enemy has got as many if not more, has neither the 
Napoleonic nor the Nelsonic gift of Imagination and 
Audacity. We know, now, how very near — within 
almost a few minutes of total destruction (at the time 
the battle-cruiser" Blucher"was sunk) — was the loss to the 
Germans of several even more powerful ships than the 
" Blucher," more particularly the " Seydlitz." Alas! there 


Sir John Fisher in "Renown,"' 1897. 


was a fatal doubt which prevented the continuance of 
the onslaught, and it was indeed too grievous that we 
missed by so little so great a " Might Have Been ! " 
Well, anyhow, we won the war and it is all over. But 
I for one simply abominate the saying " Let bygones be 
bygones." I should shoot 'em now ! And seek another 

I get the following from Lord Esher : — " In January, 
1906, King Edward sent me to see Mr. Beit, who had 
been recently received by the German Emperor at 
Potsdam. The Emperor said to Beit that ' England 
wanted war : not the King — not, perhaps, the Govern- 
ment ; but influential people like Sir John Fisher.' 
He said Fisher held that because the British Fleet was 
in perfect order, and the German Fleet was not ready^ 
England should provoke war. Beit said he had met 
Fisher at Carlsbad, and had long talks with him, and that 
what he said to him did not convey at all the impression 
gathered by His Imperial Majesty. The Emperor 
replied : ' He thinks it is the hour for an attack, and I 
am not blaming him. I quite understand his point of 
view ; but we, too, are prepared, and if it comes to war 
the result will depend upon the weight you carry into 
action — namely, a good conscience, and I have that. . . . 
Fisher can, no doubt, land 100,000 men in Schleswig- 
Holstein — it would not be difficult — and the British 
Navy has reconnoitred the coast of Denmark with this 
object during the cruise of the Fleet. But Fisher forgets 
that it will be for me to deal with the 100,000 men when 
they are landed.' " 

33 D 


The German Emperor told another friend of mine 
the real spot. It was not Schleswig-Holstein — that was 
only a feint to be turned into a reality against the Kiel 
Canal if things went well. No, the real spot was the 
Pomeranian Coast, under a hundred miles from Berlin, 
where the Russian Army landed in the time of Frederick 
the Great. Frederick felt it was the end and sent for 
a bottle of poison, but he didn't take it, as the Russian 
Empress died that night and peace came. 

Long before I heard from Lord Esher, I had written 
the following note about Beit : — 

A mutual friend at Carlsbad introduced me to Mr. 
Beit, the great South African millionaire. He adored 
Cecil Rhodes, and so did I. Beit, so I was told, had 
got it into his head that I somewhat resembled his dead 
friend, and he talked to me on one occasion about Rhodes 
until 3 a.m. after dining together. Beit begged me to 
come and see him on my return to London at his house 
in Park Lane, just then finished, but I never did for I 
was vastly busy then. I was troubled on all sides, 
like St. Paul. 

" Without were fightings, and within were fears." 
Fighting outside the Admiralty, and fears inside it. 

He really was a dear man, was Beit. 

Of course I don't know anything about his business 
character. Apparently there is a character a man puts 
on in business, just as a man does in politics, and it may 
be quite different from his character as a gentleman. 

Beit every year made a pilgrimage to Hamburg, to see 
his old mother, who lived there, and it much touched me, 
his devotion to her. But our bond of affection was our 
affection for Rhodes. 

The German Emperor sent for Beit, for I gathered 
that Beit saw how peace was threatened. I don't know 



if this was the reason of the interview. In this Imperial 
conversation my name turned up as Lord Esher had 
made a statement that by ail from the German Emperor 
downwards I was the most hated man in Germany. 
The German Emperor did say to Beit that I was 
dangerous, and that he knew of my ideas as regards the 
Baltic being Germany's vulnerable spot, and he had 
heard of my idea for the " Copenhagening " of the 
German Fleet. But this last I much doubt. He only 
said it because he knew it was what we ought to have 

With regard to saying anything more of that interview 
I prefer to keep silent. In an Italian book, printed at 
Brescia in a.d. 1594, occur these words of Steven Guazzo ; 

" They should know," says Anniball, " that it is no 
lesse admirable to know how to holde one's peace than 
to know how to speake. For, as wordes well uttered 
shewe eloquance and learning, so silence well kept 
sheweth prudence and gravitie ! " 

I wish Beit could have read Stead's splendid appreci- 
ation of Cecil Rhodes, who describes him as a Titan of 
intrinsic nobility and sincerity, of innate excellence of 
heart, and immense vitality of genius, and describes the 
splendid impulsiveness of his generous nature. I am 
told that Rhodes 's favourite quotation was from Marcus 
Aurelius : 

" Take care always to remember you are a Roman, 
and let every action be done with perfect and unaffected 
gravity, humanity, freedom and justice." 

Stead's opinion was that Rhodes was a practical 
mystic of the Cromwell type. Stead was right. Rhodes 
was a Cromwell. He was Cromwellian in thoroughness, 
he was Napoleonic in audactiy, and he was Nelsonic 
in execution. 

" Let us praise famous men." 
{Ecdesiasticus, chapter 44, verse i). 

35 i> 2 


From Lord Fisher to a Friend 

36, Berkeley Square. 
My Dear Friend, 

I was asked yesterday : Could I end the War ? 

I said : " Yes, by one decisive stroke ! " 

" What's the stroke ? " I was asked. 

I repUed : " Never prescribe till you are called in." 

But I said this : '' Winston once told me, ' You can 
see Visions ! That's why you should come back.' " 

For instance, even Jellicoe was against me in sending 
the Battle Cruisers to gobble up von Spec at the Falkland 
Islands ! (All were against me !) Yes ! and all were 
against me in 1904 ! when the Navy was turned inside out 
—ships, officers and men. " A New Heaven and a 
New Earth ! " 160 ships put on the scrap heap because 
they could neither fight nor run away ! Vide Mr. Bal- 
four's speech at Manchester about this " Courageous 
stroke of the pen ! " 

We now want another Courageous Stroke 1 And the 
Stroke is ready ! It's the British Navy waiting to strike ! 
And it would end the War ! 

This project of mine sounds an impossibility ! but 
so did von Spec's annihilation ! Pitt said " I walk on 
Impossibilities." All the old women of both sexes 
would squirm at it! They equally squirmed when I 
did away with 19 J millions sterling of parasites in ships, 
officers and men, between 1904 and 1910 ! They 
squirmed when, at one big plunge, we introduced the 
Turbine in the Dreadnought (the Turbine only before 
having been in a penny steamboat). They squirmed at 
my introduction of the water tube Boiler, when I put 
the fire where the water used to be and the water where 
the fire used to be ! And now 82 per cent, of the Horse 
Power of the whole world is Turbine propulsion actuated 
by water tube Boilers ! 

They squirmed when I concentrated 88 per cent, of 



the British Fleet in the North Sea, and this concentration 
was only found out by accident, and so published to the 
ignorant world, by Admiral Mahan in an article in 
The Scientific American ! 

And they squirm now when I say at one stroke the 
War could be ended. It could be ! 

Yours, etc. 

(Signed) Fisher. 

Lord Fisher to a Privy Councillor 

36, Berkeley Square, 

Dec. 27, 1916. 
My Dear Friend, 

You've sent me a very charming letter, though I 
begged you not to trouble yourself to write, but as 
you have written and said things I am constrained to 
reply, lest you should be under false impressions. I 
have an immense regard for Jellicoe. . . . Callaghan 
I got where he was — he was a great friend of mine — 
but Jellicoe was better ; and Jellicoe, in spite of 
mutinous threats, was appointed Admiralissimo on the 
eve of war. I just mention all this to show what I've 
done for Jellicoe because I knew him to be a born 
Commander of a Fleet ! Like poets. Fleet Admirals are 
born, not made ! Nascitur nan fit ! Jellicoe is incompar- 
able as the Commander of a Fleet, but to prop up an 
effete Administration he allowed himself to be cajoled 
away from his great post of duty. I enclose my letter 
to him. 

I need hardly say how private all this is, but you are 
so closely associated with all the wonders we effected 
from October 21, 1904, onwards, that I feel bound to 
take you into my inmost confidence. Jellicoe retorted 
I had praised Beatty — so I had ! See my reply thereon. 




I told the Dardanelles Commission (why they asked me 
I don't know !) that Jellicoe had all the Nelsonic attributes 
except one — he is totally wanting in the great gift of 
Insubordination. Nelson's greatest achievements were 
all solely due to his disobeying orders ! But that's 
another story, as Mr. Kipling would say. Wait till we 
meet, and I'll astonish you on this subject ! Any fool 
can obey orders ! But it required a Nelson to disobey 
Sir John Jervis at the Battle of Cape St. Vincent, to 
disregard the order to retire at Copenhagen, to go into 
the Battle of the Nile by night with no charts against 
orders, and, to crown all, to enter into the Battle of 
Trafalgar in a battle formation contrary to all the Sea 
orders of the time ! Bless him ! Alas ! Jellicoe is 
saturated with Discipline ! He is the one man to 
command the Fleet, but he is not the man to stand up 
against a pack of lawyers clothed with Cabinet garments, 
and possessed with tongues that have put them where 
they are ! 

David was nodding when he said in the Psalms : 
" A man full of words shall not prosper on the Earth." 
They are the very ones that do prosper ! For War, my 
dead Friend, you want a totally differently constituted 
mind to that of a statesman and politician ! There are 
great exemplars of immense minds being utter fools ! 
They weigh everything in the Balance ! I know great 
men who never came to a prompt decision — men who 
could talk a bird out of a tree ! 

War is Big Conceptions and Quick Decisions. Think 
in Oceans. Shoot at Sight ! The essence of War is 
Violence. Moderation in War is Imbecihty. All we 
have done this war is to imitate the Germans ! We have 
neither been Napoleonic in Audacity nor Cromwellian 
in Thoroughness nor Nelsonic in execution. Always, 
always, always " Too Late " ! 

I could finish this present German submarine menace 
in a few weeks, but I must have power ! My plans 



would be emasculated if I handed them in. I must be 
able to say to the men I employ : " If you don't do what 
I tell you, ril make your zvife a widow and your house a 
dunghill I ! ! {and they know I would !) 

Don't prescribe till you're called in ! Someone else 
might put something else in the pill ! 

Heaven bless you ! 

When people come and sympathise with me, I always 
reply, with those old Romans 2,000 years ago expelled : 

" Non fugimus : 

Nos fugamur." 
" We are not Deserters, 

We are Outcasts." 

Yours, etc. 

(Signed) Fisher. 

From a Privy Councillor to Lord Fisher 

Jan. 8th, 1917. 

My Dear Fisher, 

I have always thought Jellicoe one of those rare 
exceptions to the general rule that no great commander 
is ever a good administrator. I knew you had picked 
him out long ago to command the Grand Fleet if war 
came, and it is in my mind that you had told me years 
ago your opinion of him as a Sea Commander so that it 
was what I was expecting and hoping for at the time, 
though I was sorry for Jellicoe superseding Callaghan 
when the war broke out, but I remembered your old 
saying, " Some day the Empire will go down because it 
is Buggins's turn " ! At the same time, I'm not sure 
that any man can stand the strain of active command 
under present conditions for more than 2| years. I 
see no sign of tiredness about Jellicoe now, but it must 
be almost impossible to keep at high tension so long 
without losing some of the spring and dash, and it did 



look as if a stronger man than Jackson was wanted as 
First Sea Lord at the Admirahy. Of course when you 
were First Sea Lord and Jellicoe with the Grand Fleet 
it was absolutely the right combination, but as they 
haven't brought you back to the Admiralty I feel Jellicoe 
is the man to be where he is, provided his successor is 
the right man too. I don't know Beatty, so can only 
go by what I hear of him. I can only pray that when 
his day of trial comes he will come up to your high 

I largely agree with all you say about the politicians. 
No doubt our great handicap in this war is that nearly 
all the party leaders get their positions through qualities 
which serve them admirably in peace time, but are fatal 
in war. The great art in politics in recent years has 
always seemed to me to be to pretend to lead, when you 
are really following the public bent of the moment. 
All sense of right and wrong is blunted, and no one 
stands up for what he honestly believes in but which 
may not at the moment be popular. If he does, he is 
regarded as a fool, and a '* waster," and may get out. 
A habit of mind is thus formed which is wholly wanting 
in initiative, and in war the initiative is everything. I 
agree with you absolutely : — " Make up your mind, 
and strike ! and strike hard and without mercy J" We have 
thrown away chance upon chance, and nothing saves 
us but the splendid fighting material at our disposal. 
I doubt whether the recent changes will bring about any 
great change. I trust they may, but, whatever happens, 
neither side can go on indefinitely. Everything points 
to Germany's economic condition being very bad, and 
there may come a crash, but meantime the submarine 
warfare is most serious ^ and no complete answer to it is yet 

Yours very sincerely, 




Mr. Gladstone stood by me last night. Mr. 
McKenna was by his side. I am not inventing this 
dream. It is a true story. (It is Godly sincerity that 
wins — not fleshly v^sdom !) 

A gentleman, such as you, was by way of interviewing 
Mr. Gladstone. Mr. Gladstone was castigating me. I 
was a Public Department. He said to you, who were 
interviewing him, that he was helpless against all the 
Public Departments, for he was fighting for Economy, 
and he gave a case to you worse than either Chepstow 
or Slough. I am sorry to say it was the War Office he 
was illustrating, as I am devoted to Mr. Churchill and 
would not hurt him for the world — even in a dream. 
It is too puerile to describe in print, but what Mr. 
Gladstone pointed to I have told you in conversation. 

Now, the above is an Allegory. 

Imagine ! nearly a year after the Armistice and yet 
we are spending two millions sterling a day beyond an 
absolutely fabulous income — beyond any income ever 
yet produced by any Empire or any Nation ! 

Sweep them out ! 



Dr. Macnamara, a few days since, in his apologia pro 
vita sua excuses his Department to the public by saying 
that on the very day of the Armistice the Board of Ad- 
miralty sat on Economy ! So they did ! They sat on 

Economy ! To send Squadrons all over the globe 
that were not there before ! The globe did without 
them during the War — why not now ? " Oh my Sacred 
Aunt ! " (as the French say when in an extremity). 
** Showing the flag," I suppose, for that was the cry of 
the " baying hounds " in 1905 when we brought home 
some 160 vessels of war that could neither fight nor run 
away — and whose Officers were shooting pheasants up 
Chinese rivers and giving tea parties to British Consuls. 
How those Consuls did write ! And how agitated was 
the Foreign Office ! I must produce some of these 
communications directly " DORA " is abolished. Well, 
that's what " showing the flag " means. 

Sweep 'em out ! 

Gladstone was hopeless against Departments — so is 
now the Nation. 

Dr. Macnamara may not know it, but Mr. Herbert 
Samuel was to have had his place. I did not know 
either of them, but I said to the Prime Minister " Let's 
have the * Two Macs ' ! " Mind, I don't class him with 
the Music Hall artist. {Temptis : Death of Campbell- 
Bannerman) — that epoch — -I cannot forget Mr. Asquith's 
kindness to me. He had telephoned to me from 
Bordeaux after seeing the King at Biarritz, asking me 
to meet him on his arrival home next night at 8.30 p.m. 



at 40 Cavendish Square. His motor car was leaving 
the door as I arrived. He told me he had seen the 
King, and had proposed Mr. McKenna as First Lord 
of the Admiralty. The King seemed to have some 
suspicion that I should not think Mr. McKenna a con- 
genial spirit. I made no objection — I thought to myself 
that if Mr. McKenna were hostile then Tempus edax 
rerum. I don't think Jonathan and David were " in 
it," when Mr. McKenna and I parted on January 25th, 
1 9 10 — my selected day to go and plant roses in Norfolk. 
I blush to quote the Latin inscription on the beautiful 
vase he gave me ; 

Joanni Fisher 

Baroni Kilverstonae 

Navarchorum Principi, Ensis, Linguae, 

Stili Valde Perito, 
Vel in Concilio vel in Praelio insigni, 

Nihil Timenti, 

Inflexibili, Indomitabili, Invincibili/ 

Pignus Amicitiae Sempiternae, 

Dederimt Reginaldus et Pamela McKenna. 



Lord Fisher of Kilverstone 

First of Admirals 

Skilled of Sword, Tongue & Pen 

Brilliant in Council and Battle 

Dreading Nought 

Inflexible, Indomitable, Invincible ' 

This Token of Enduring Friendship 

a Gift from 

Reginald & Pamela McKenna 

And, even now, when time and absence might have 
deadened those feelings of affection, he casts himself into 

^ Note. — These are the names of the three first great Battle Cruisers 
of the Dreadnought type. 



the burning fiery furnace, bound with me in a trusteeship 
of a huge estate with only 3^. 4^. in the ^ left — all that 
the spendthrifts leave us. " Showing the flag " 
and presumably resuscitating the same old game 
of multitudinous dockyards to minister to the ships 
that are " showing the flag " ; and so more Chepstows 
and more Sloughs ! And these multitudes of ship- 
wrights superfluous in Government Dockyards who 
ought to be in day and night shifts making good at 
Private Yards the seven millions sterling of merchant 
vessels that Dr. Macnamara's Government associates 
supinely allowed to be sent to the bottom ! Those 
political and professional associates, who, instead of 
using the unparalleled British Navy of the moment 
as a colossal weapon for landing Russian Armies in 
Pomerania and Schleswig-Holstein, aided by the calm 
and tideless waters of the Baltic, were led astray to 
follow the road that led to conscription and an army 
of Four Million Soldiers, while the Navy was described 
in the House of Commons as *' a subsidiary service." 
How Napoleon must now be chortling at his prognostica- 
tion coming true, that he put forth at St. Helena, as 
described on page 177 of Lord Rosebery's " Last Phase," 
that the day we left the sea would be our downfall ! 

But this chapter is on " Economy " ; and I have to 
tell a story here about my dear friend McKenna. He 
was Secretary of the Treasury ; he, and an almost equal 
friend of mine — Mr. Runciman — were, as we all know, 
extremely cunning at figures. Lots of people were then 
looking after me — Kind friends ! For instance, I re- 



member my good friend John Burns at one Cabinet 
Committee meeting instructing me on a piece of blotting 
paper how to deal with a hostile fleet. I don't mean to 
say that John Burns would not have been a first-class 
Admiral. To be a good Admiral, a man does not need 
to be a good sailor. That's a common mistake. He 
wants good sailors under him. He is the Conceptionist. 
However, to resume. At that time I was " Pooh-Bah "#" 
at the Admiralty ; the First Lord was in a trance, and 
the Financial Secretary had locomotor ataxy. I was 
First Sea Lord, and I acted for both the Financial Secre- 
tary and the First Lord in their absence. I wasn't 
justified, but I did it. So I was the tria juncta in uno ; 
and I referred, as First Sea Lord, a matter to the Financial 
Secretary for his urgent and favourable consideration, 
and he favourably commended it to the First Lord, who 
invariably cordially approved. It was all over in about 
a minute. Business buzzed! 

(I'm doubtful whether this ought to come out before 
Dora's abolished. That's why I wanted these papers 
to be edited in the United States by some indiscreet 
woman, where no action for libel lies. Colonel House 
did ask me to go to America when I saw him in Paris 
last May. There is a great temptation, for the climate 
goes from the Equator to the Pole, and a dear American 
Admiral friend of mine expatiated to me on the joy of 
laying hold of the hand of the summer girl at Palm Beach 
in Florida and never letting it go until you get to Bar 
Harbour in the State of Maine. I have had endless 
invitations and most hearty words from Florida to Maine, 



and from Passedena to Boston, and I have as many 
American dear friends as I have English.) 

Well ! the Treasury could not make out how all those 
submarines were being built — where the devil the money 
was coming from ; so these ferrets came over. I led a 
dog's hfe, or rather a rabbit's Hfe, chased from hole to 
hole. Nothing came of it ; and as an outcome of that 
time I left the Admiralty with 6i good submarines 
and 13 building. The Germans, thank God ! had 
gone to the bottom with their first submarine, which 
never came up again, and the few more they had at that 
time were not much use. 

I must tell a story now. Mind ! I don't want to run 
down the Treasury. The Treasury is an absolutely 
necessary affliction. 

There was once a good Parsee ship-owner with a 
good Captain. But this Captain would charge his 
owner with the cost of his carriage from his ship to the 
office. Not being far, the old Parsee thought the Captain 
ought to walk, and if he didn't walk then he ought to 
pay for the cab himself. They call the carriages 
" buggies " at Bombay. However, when the old Parsee 
had to pay the bill next month — there it was : " Buggy 
— so many rupees." He told his Captain he would pay 
that once but never again ; and not finding it in the items 
of the bill presented the following month he gave the 
Captain his cheque. As the Captain put it in his pocket 
he said : '' Buggy's there ! " That's what happened to 
the Treasury and the submarines. 

I had a friend in the Accountant-General's Department 



called *' The Mole." He taught me how to hide the 
money. I may observe I was called a " Mole." It 
wasn't a bad name. I was not seen or heard, but I was 
recognised by upheavals — " There is that damned fellow 
Fisher again, I will swear to it ! " But, as David said, 
" Let us be abundantly satisfied " that we have such 
among us as McKennas and Runcimans. I should like 
to let those ferrets loose now. However, " Out of Evil 
Good comes." Now comes a pardonable digression, I 

Here's a letter I got yesterday, September 9th, 1919, 
coming from Russia. Now suppose we had not made 
the very damnedest mess of Russia ever made in this 
world — with Lord Milner first going there and then 
Mr. Henderson, the head of the Labour Party, ambassa- 
doring (as least, he says so) and this nation in every 
possible conceivable way alienating the Russian people 
— then I never could have had this magnificent letter 
from Russia to give you. Just observing, before I quote 
it : Supposing a French Army landed at Dover to help 
us subjugate Ireland ? I guess we should all forget 
whether we were Tories or Carsons or Smillies,and unite 
to get this French army out of our Archangel, and 
the Entente Cordial would be " in the cart," as the 
vulgar say. Well, this is the letter which does my heart 
good. It is from a young lad in an English man-of-war, 
now off St. Petersburg. He is writing of the recent 
defeat of the Russian fleet there : — 

** There has been such a fight. I was only a looker-on. 
I was furious. Kronstadt was attacked by our motor 



boats each carrying two torpedoes " [by the way, I was 
viUfied for introducing motor boats] ** and seaplanes with 
destroyers backing them up " [isn't it awful ! I introduced 
destroyers also]. " Two Russian battleships, a Depot 
ship and a Destroyer Leader were torpedoed. 

"Our motor boats were MAGNIFICENT! 

" I nearly cried with pride at belonging to the same 

There has been nothing like it in the whole War. 
I would rather take part in a thing like that than 
be Prime Minister of England. You would have been 
so proud if you could have seen them." 

The letter is to the boy's mother. On it is written, 
by him who sends it me, '* The Nelson touch, I think ! " 





AWAY '* 

2 Corinthians, iii, 14. 

I COMPARED this morning early what I had formerly 
written on the subject of Personalities with what I said 
to you yesterday on the same subject in my peripatetic 
dictation — I can't recognise what is in type for the same 
as what I spoke. 

This morning I get a letter from Lord Rosebery. 
Lord Rosebery is, I think, in a way attached to me. 
In fact he must be, or I should not have drunk so much 
of his splendid champagne ! Now you don't call me 
" frisky " when I walk up and down talking to you ; 
and although he reads the actual living words I say to 
you, yet when he sees the beastly thing in print he calls 
me " frisky " ! I keep on saying this ad nauseam, to 
keep on hammering it not only into you but into the 
public at large who happen to read these words — that 
no printed effusion can ever represent what, when face 
to face, cannot help conveying conviction to the hearer. 
And so we come to the same old story, that the written 

49 ^ 


word is an inanimate corpse. You want to have the 
Soul of the Man pouring out to you his personaUty. 

And here again, when I contrasted the notes which 
I spoke from with what I said, again I find I don't 
recognise them — Well ! enough of that ! 

Now if anyone thinks that in this chapter they are 
going to see Sport and that I am going to trounce Mr. 
Winston Churchill and abuse Mr. Asquith and put it 
all upon poor Kitchener they are woefully mistaken. 
It was a Miasma that brought about the Dardanelles 
Adventure. A Miasma like the invisible, scentless, 
poisonous — deadly poisonous— gas with which my dear 
friend Brock, of imperishable memory and Victoria 
Cross bravery, wickedly massacred at Zeebrugge, was 
going (in unison with a plan I had) to polish off not alone 
every human soul in Heligoland and its surrounding 
fleet sheltered under its guns from the Grand Fleet, but 
every rabbit. It was much the same gas the German put 
into the " Inflexible " (which I commanded), in 1882 to 
light the engine-room. When it escaped it was scentless ; 
instead of going up, as it ought to have done, it went 
down, and permeated the double-bottom, and we kept 
hauling up unconscious men like poisoned miners out 
of a coalpit. Gas catastrophe — Yes ! Brock was lost 
to us at the massacre of Zeebrugge — lost uselessly ; 
for no such folly was ever devised by fools as such an 
operation as that of Zeebrugge divorced from military 
co-operation on land. What were the bravest of the 
brave massacred for ? Was it glory ? Is the British 
Navy a young Navy requiring glory ? When 25 per 



cent, of our Officers were killed a few days since, sinking 
two Bolshevik battleships, etc., and heroic on their own 
element, the sea, we all thank God, as we should do, 
that Nelson, looking down on us in Trafalgar Square, 
feels his spirit is still with us. But for sailors to go on 
shore and attack forts, which Nelson said no sailor but 
a lunatic would do, without those on shore of the military 
persuasion to keep what you have stormed, is not only 
silly but it's murder and it's criminal. Also by the time 
Zeebrugge was attacked, the German submarine had 
got far beyond a fighting radius that required this base 
near the English coast. As Dean Inge says : *' We 
must hope that in the Paradise of brave men the know- 
ledge is mercifully hid from them that they died in 

Again, this is a digression — but such must be the nature 
of this book when speaking ore rotimdo and from the 
fulness of a disgusted heart, that such Lions should be 
led by such Asses. The book can't convey my feelings, 
however carefully my good friend the typewriter is taking 
it down. All the quill drivers, the ink spillers, and the 
Junius-aping journalists will jeer at you as the Editor, 
and say, '* Why didn't you stop him ? Where's the 
argument ? Where's the lucid exposition ? Where's 
the subtle dialectician who will talk a bird out of a tree ? 
Where is this wonderful personality I'm told of, who 
fooled King Edward, and ravished virgins, and preached 
the Gospel (so he says) ? Like Gaul, he is divided into 
three parts ; we don't see one of them." 

We'll get along with the Dardanelles now. All this 

51 E2 


will make pulp for paper for the National 


" Imperial Csesar dead and turned to clay 
Now stops a hole to keep the wind away," 

Well, I left off at the " Miasma " that, imperceptibly 
to each of them in the War Council, floated down on them 
with rare subtle dialectical skill, and proved so incon- 
testably to them that cutting off the enemy's big toe 
in the East was better than stabbing him to the heart in 
the West ; and that the Dardanelles was better than 
the Baltic, and that Gallipoli knocked spots off the 
Kiel Canal, or a Russian Army landed by the British 
Fleet on the Baltic shore of Schleswig-Holstein. 

Without any doubt, the '' beseechings " of the Grand 
Duke Nicholas in the Caucasus on January 2nd, 1915,^ 
addressed to Kitchener in such soldierly terms, moved 
that great man's heart ; tor say what you will. Kitchener 
was a great man. But he was a great deception, all 
the same, inasmuch as he couldn't do what a lot of people 
thought he could do. Like Moses, he was a great 
Commissariat Officer, but he was not a Napoleon or a 
Moltke ; he was a Carnot in excelsis, and he was the 
facile dupe of his own failings. But " Speak well of 
those who treat you well." I went to him one evening 
at 5 p.m., with Mr. Churchill's knowledge, and said to 
him as First Sea Lord of the Admiralty that if his 

1 On January 2, 1915, Russia asked for a demonstration against the 
Turks in order to relieve the pressure they were putting on the Russian 
forces in the Caucasus. Next day the War Office cabled a promise, 
through the Foreign Office, that this should be done. Before he sent 
the cable Lord Kitchener wrote to Mr. ChurchiU : " The only place 
that a demonstration might have some efEect in stopping reinforcements 
going East would be the Dardanelles." 



myrmidons did not cease that same night from seducing 
men from the private shipyards to become " Cannon- 
fodder " I was going to resign at 6 p.m. I explained to 
him the egregious folly of not pressing on our ship- 
building to its utmost limits. He admitted the soft 
impeachment as to the seduction ; and there, while I 
waited, he wrote the telegram calling off the seducers. 
If only that had been stuck to after I left the Admiralty, 
we shouldn't be rationed now in sugar nearly a year 
after the Armistice, nor should we be bidding fair to 
become a second Carthage. We left our element, the 
sea, to make ourselves into a conscript nation jfighting 
on the Continent with four million soldiers out of a 
population of forty millions. More than all the other 
nations' was our Army. 

The last words of Mr. A. G. Gardiner's article about 
him who is now dictating are these : *' He is fighting 
his last great battle. And his foe is the veteran of the 
rival service. For in his struggle to establish con- 
scription Lord Roberts's most formidable antagonist 
is the author of the * Dreadnought.' " 

Well, once more resuming the Dardanelles story. 
These side-lights really illuminate the situation. These 
Armies we were raising incited us to these wild-cat 
expeditions. I haven't reckoned them up, but there 
must have been a Baker's Dozen of 'em going on. Now, 
do endeavour to get this vital fact into your mind. We 
are an Island. Every soldier that wants to go anywhere 
out of England — a sailor has got to carry him there on his 



Consequently, every soldier that you raise or enlist, 
or recruit, or whatever the proper word is, unless he is 
absolutely part of a Lord Lieutenant's Army, never to 
go out of England and only recruited, like the Militia — 
that splendid force ! — to be called up only in case of 
invasion — as I say, every soldier that is recruited on any 
other basis means so much tonnage in shipping that has 
to be provided, not only to take him to the Continent ; 
but it's got to be kept ready to bring him back, in case of 
his being wounded, and all the time to take him pro- 
visions, ammunition, stores. Those vessels again have 
to have other vessels to carry out coal for those vessels, 
and those colliers have again to be supplemented by other 
colliers to take the place of those removed from the 
normal trade, and the coal mines themselves necessitate 
more miners or the miners' working beyond the hours of 
fatigue to bring forth the extra coal ; or else the 
commercial work of the nation gets diminished and your 
economic resources get crippled, and that of itself carried 
in extremis means finishing the war. As a matter of fact^ 
it has nearly finished the English Nation— the crippling 
of our economic resources by endeavouring to swell 
ourselves out like the Frog in yEsop's Fables, and become 
a great continental Power— forgetting the Heaven-sent 
gift of an incomparable Navy dating from the time of 
Alfred the Great, and God's providing a breakwater 
600 miles long (the British Islands) in front of the German 
Coast to stop the German access to the ocean, and thus 
by easy blockade killing him from the sea as he was 
killed eventually. Alas ! what happened ? In the House 



of Commons the British Navy is called a subsidiary 
Service. And then Lord Rosebery doesn't like my 
'* frisking" ; and cartoons represent that I want a job ; 
and fossil Admirals call me immodest ! 

Mr. Churchill was behind no one both in his enthusiasm 
for the Baltic project, and also in his belief that the 
decisive theatre of the war was beyond doubt in Northern 
waters ; and both he and Mr. Lloyd George, the Chan- 
cellor of the Exchequer, magnificently responded to the 
idea of constructing a great Armada of 612 vessels, 
to be rapidly built — mostly in a few weeks and only a few 
extending over a few months — to carry out the great 
purpose ; and I prepared my own self with my own 
hands alone, to preserve secrecy, all the arrangements 
for landing three great armies at different places — two 
of them being feints that could be turned into a reality. 
Also I made all the preparations, shortly before these 
expeditions were to start, to practise them embarking 
at Southampton and disembarking at Stokes Bay, so that 
those who were going to work the Russian Armies would 
be practised in the art, having seen the experiment con- 
ducted on a scale of twelve inches to the foot with 50,000 

(We once embarked 8,000 soldiers on board the 
Mediterranean Fleet in nineteen minutes, and the fleet 
steamed out and landed them at similar speed. Old 
Abdul Hamid, the Sultan, heard of it, and he compli- 
mented me on there being such a Navy. That was the 
occasion when a red-haired, short, fat Major, livid with 
rage, complained to me on the beach that a bluejacket had 



shoved him into the boat and said to him " Hurry up, 
you bloody lobster, or FU be 'ung ! " I explained to the 
Major that the man would have been hanged ; he was 
responsible for getting the boat filled and shoved off in 
so many seconds.) 

I remember that at the War Council held on January 
28th, 1915, at 11.30 a.m., Mr. Churchill announced that 
the real purpose of the Navy was to obtain access to the 
Baltic, and he illustrated that there were three naval 
phases. The first phase was the clearing of the outer 
seas ; and that had been accomplished. The second 
phase was the clearing of the North Sea. And the third 
phase was the clearing of the Baltic. Mr. Churchill 
laid stress on the importance of this latter operation, 
because Germany always had been and still was very 
much afraid of being attacked in the Baltic. For this 
purpose special vessels were needed and the First Sea 
Lord, Lord Fisher, had designed cruisers, etc., etc., 
meaning the Armada. Mr. Lloyd George said to me at 
another meeting of the War Council, with all listening : 
'* How many battleships shall we lose in the Dardanelles ? " 
" A dozen ! " said I, " but I prefer to lose them else- 
where." In dictating this account I can*t represent his 
face when I said this. 

Here I insert a letter on the subject which I wrote to 

Lord Cromer in October, 1916 : — 

36, Berkeley Square, 

October nth, 1916. 

Dear Lord Cromer, 

To-day Sir F. Cawley asked me to to reconcile Kitch- 
ener's statement of May 14th at the War Council that 



the Admiralty proposed the Dardanelles enterprise with 
my assertion that he (Kitchener) did it. Please see 
question No. 1119. Mr. Churchill is speaking, and 
Lord Kitchener said to him " could we not for instance 
make a demonstration at the Dardanelles ? " 

I repeat that before Kitchener's letter of Jan. 2nd 
to Mr. Churchill there was no Dardanelles ! Mr. Churchill 
had been rightly wrapped up in the splendid project of 
the British Army sweeping along the sea in association 
with the British Fleet. See Mr. Churchill at Question 
No. 1 179. 

'* The advance of the (British) Army along the Coast 
was an attractive operation , but we could not get it settled. 
Sir John French wanted very much to do it, but it fell 

See Lord Fisher, War Council of Jan. i^th / Sir John 
French then present — (3 times he came over about it) — 
" Lord Fisher demurred to any attempt to attack Zee- 
brugge without the co-operation of the British Army 
along the coast." 

As to the Queen Elizabeth, Mr. Churchill is right in 
saying there was great tension between Kitchener and 
myself. He came over to the Admiralty and when I 
said '* if the * Queen Elizabeth^ didnH leave the Dardanelles 
that night I should f " he got up from the table and he 
left ! and wrote an unpleasant letter about me to the 
Prime Minister ! Lucky she did leave 1 1 The German 
submarine prowling around for a fortnight looking for 
her (and neglecting all the other battleships) blew up her 
duplicate wooden image. 

Yours, etc., 

(Signed) Fisher. 

Mr. Churchill is quite correct. I backed him up till 
I resigned. I would do the same again ! He had courage 
and imagination ! He was a War Man ! 

If you doubt my dictum that the Cabinet Ministers 



only were members of the War Council and the rest of 
us voice tubes to convey information and advice, ask 
Hankey to come before you again and state the status ! 

Otherwise the experts would be the Government ! 
Kindly read what Mr. Asquith said on Nov. 2nd, 
191 5, in Parliament. (See p. 70.) 

(We had constructed a fleet of dummy battleships to 
draw off the German submarines. This squadron ap- 
peared with effect in the Atlantic and much confused the 

Mr. Asquith also was miasma-ed ; and it's not allowable 
to describe the discussion that he, I, and Mr. Churchill 
had in the Prime Minister's private room, except so far 
as to observe that Mr. Churchill had been strongly in 
favour of military co-operation with the fleet on the 
Belgian Coast, and Sir John French, on three different 
visits to the War Council, had assented to carrying out 
the operation, provided he had another Division added 
to his Force. This project — so fruitful as it would have 
been in its results at the early stage of the war — was, I 
understand, prevented by three deterrents : (i) Lord 
Kitchener's disinclination ; (2) The French didn't want 
the British Army to get into Belgium ; (3) The Dardan- 
elles came along. 

I objected to any Naval action on the Belgian Coast 
without such military co-operation. Those flat shores 
of the Belgian coast, enfiladed by the guns of the accom- 
panying British Fleet, rendered that enterprise feasible, 
encouraging and, beyond doubt, deadly to the enemy's 
sea flank. Besides preventing Zeebrugge from being 



fortified and the Belgian Coast being made use of as a 
jumping-off place for the air raids on London and else- 
where, with guns capable of ranging such an enormous 
distance as those mounted in the Monitors, we could 
have enfiladed with great effect all attacks by the Germans. 
When we got to the Council table — the members having 
been kept waiting a considerable time — the Prime Min- 
ister gave the decision that the Dardanelles project must 
proceed ; and as I rose from the Council table Kitchener 
followed me, and was so earnest and even emotional^ 
that I should return that I said to myself after some delay : 
" Well, we can withdraw the ships at any moment, so 
long as the Military don't land," and I succumbed. I 
was mad on that Armada of 612 vessels, so generously 
fostered by Mr. Lloyd George and Mr. Churchill and 
sustained by the Prime Minister. They were of all 
sorts and sizes — but alas ! as they reached completion 
they began to be gradually perverted and diverted to 
purposes for which they were unfitted and employed in 
waters to which they were unsuited. Nevertheless they 
made (some of them) the Germans flee for their lives, 

1 " The dramatic scene which followed may one day furnish material 
for the greatest historical picture of the war. Lord Fisher sat and 
listened to the men who knew nothing about it and heard one after 
another pass opinion in favour of a venture to which he was opposed. 
He rose abruptly from the table and made as if to leave the room. 

" The tall figure of Lord Kitchener rose and followed him. The two 
stood by the window for some time in conversation and then both took 
their seats again. In Lord Fisher's own words : ' I reluctantly gave 
in to Lord Kitchener and resumed my seat.' 

" Mr. Asquith saw that drama enacted, and Mr. Asquith knew that 
it arose out of Lord Fisher's opposition to the scheme under discussion. 
But he allowed his colleagues on the Council to reach their conclusions 
without drawing from the expert his opinion for their guidance. The 
monstrous decision wais therefore taken without it. But they all 
knew it — such a scene could not occur without everyone knowing the 



and with such a one as the gallant Arbuthnot or the 
splendid Hood, who gave their lives for nothing at 
Jutland, we might have had another Quiberon. 

To resume : I gave Lord Cromer, the Chairman of 
the Dardanelles Commission a precis of the Dardanelles 
case. It doesn't appear in the Report of the 
Dardanelles Commission. I forgive him that, because, 
when in his prime, he did me a good deed. It is 
worth relating. I entreated him to cut a channel into 
Alexandria Harbour deep enough for a Dreadnought ; 
and he did it, though it cost a million sterling, and thus 
gave us a base of incalculable advantage in certain con- 

I will now shortly pass in review the Dardanelles state- 
ment that I gave Lord Cromer. Those who will read this 
book won't want to be fooled with figures. I give a 
figurative synopsis. Of course, as I told the Dardanelles 
Commission (Cromer thought it judicious to omit my 
comment, I believe), the continuation of the Dardanelles 
adventure beyond the first operations, confined solely 
to the ships of the fleet which could be withdrawn at 
any moment and the matter ended — the continuation, I 
explained to the Dardanelles Commission, was largely 
due to champion liars. It must ever be so in these 
matters. I presume that's how it came about that 
two Cabinet Ministers — no doubt so fully fed up with 
the voice tube, as it has been described — told the nation 
that we were within a few yards of victory at the Darda- 
nelles, and so justified and encouraged a continuance of 
that deplorable massacre. However, no politician re- 



gards truth from the same point of view as a gentleman. 
He puts on the spectacles of his Party. The suppressio 
veri and the suggestio falsi flourish in politics like the 
green baize tree. 

Sworn to no Party — of no Sect am I : 
I can't be silent and I will not lie. 

Before the insertion of the following narrative pre- 
pared by me at the time of the Dardanelles Commission 
I wish to interject this remark : When sailors get round 
a Council Board they are almost invariably mute. The 
Politicians who are round that Board are not mute ; 
they never would have got there if they had been mute. 
That's why for the life of me I can't understand what 
on earth made David say in the Psalms " A man full 
of words shall not prosper on the Earth." They are the 
very ones who do prosper ! It shows what a wonderful 
fellow St. Paul was ; he was a bad talker and yet he got 
on. He gives a bit of autobiography, and tells us that 
his bodily presence was weak and his speech contemptible, 
though his letters were weighty and powerful. However, 
in that case, another Gospel was being preached, where 
the worldly wise were confounded by the worldly 

While my evidence was being taken before the 
Dardanelles Commission, the Secretary (Mears) was 
splendid in his kindness to me, and my everlasting 
gratitude is with the " Dauntless Three " who broke 
away from their colleagues and made an independent 
report. They were Mr. Fisher — formerly Prime 
Minister of Australia, (a fellow labourer), Sir Thomas 



Mackenzie (High Commissioner for New Zealand), and 
Mr. Roch, M.P. Their Report was my life-buoy; a 
precis of their Report, so far as it affects me and which 
I consider unanswerable, establishes that it is the 
duty of any Officer, however highly placed, to subor- 
dinate his views to that of the Government, unless he 
considers such a course so vitally antagonistic to his 
Country's interests as to compel him to resign. I 
know of no line of action so criminally outrageous and 
subversive of all discipline as that of public wrangling 
between a subordinate and his superior, or the Board 
of Admiralty and an Admiral afloat, or the War Office 
and their Commander-in-Chief in the Field. 

This Dardanelles Commission reminds me of another 
*' cloudy and dark day," as Ezekiel would describe it, 
when five Cabinet Ministers, at the instigation of an 
Admiral recently serving, held an enquiry absolutely 
technical and professional on matters about which not 
one of them could give an authoritative opinion but only 
an opinion which regarded political opportunism — an 
enquiry neither more nor less than of my professional 
capacity as First Sea Lord of the Admiralty. The 
trained mind of Mr. McKenna only just succeeded in 
saving me from being thrown to the wolves of the 
hustings. But it has inflicted a mortal wound on the 
discipline of the Navy. Hereafter no mutinous Admiral 
need despair (only provided he has political and social 
influence) of obtaining countenance for an onslaught 
against his superiors ; and we may yet lose the decisive 
battle of the world in consequence. 



The following is my narrative of my connexion with 
the Dardanelles Operations. 

" The position will not be clear and, indeed, will be 
incomprehensible, if it be not first explained how very 
close an official intimacy existed between Mr. Winston 
Churchill and Lord Fisher for very many years previous 
to the Dardanelles episode, and how Lord Fisher thus 
formed the conviction that Mr. Churchill's audacity^ 
courage, and imagination specially fitted him to be a 
War Minister. 

" When, in the autumn of 191 1 , Mr. Winston Churchill 
became First Lord of the Admiralty, Lord Fisher had 
retired from the position of First Sea Lord which he 
had occupied from October 21st, 1904, to January 25th, 
1910, amidst great turmoil all the time. During Lord 
Fisher's tenure of office as First Lord, vast Naval reforms 
were carried out, including the scrapping of some 160 
ships of no fighting value, and great naval economies 
were effected, and all this time (except for one unhappy 
lapse when Mr. Churchill resisted the additional ' Dread- 
nought ' building programme) Mr. Winston Churchill 
was in close association with these drastic reforms, and 
gave Lord Fisher all his sympathy when hostile criticism 
was both malignant and perilous. For this reason, on 
Mr. Churchill's advent as First Lord of the Admiralty 
in the autumn of 191 1, Lord Fisher most gladly complied 
with his request to return home from Italy to help 
him to proceed with that great task that had previously 
occupied Lord Fisher for six years as First Sea Lord, 
namely, the preparation for a German War which Lord 



Fisher had predicted in 1905 would certainly occur in 
August, 1 9 14, in a written memorandum, and afterwards 
also personally to Sir M. Hankey, the Secretary of the 
Committee of Imperial Defence, necessitating that drastic 
revolution in all things Naval which brought 88 per 
cent, of the British Fleet into close proximity with 
Germany and made its future battle ground in the 
North Sea its drill ground, weeding out of the 
Navy inefficiency in ships, officers, and men, and 
obtaining absolute fighting sea supremacy by an un- 
paralleled advance in types of fighting vessels. 

" Mr. Churchill then at Lord Fisher's request did a fine 
thing in so disposing his patronage as First Lord as to 
develop Sir John Jellicoe into his Nelsonic position. 
So that when the day of war came Sir John Jellicoe 
became admiralissimo in spite of great professional 
opposition. . . . 

" This increased Lord Fisher's regard for Mr. Churchill, 
and on July 30th, 1914, at his request, Lord Fisher 
spent hours with him on that fifth day before war was 
declared and by his wish saw Mr. Balfour to explain to 
him the Naval situation. This is just mentioned to 
show the close official intimacy existing between Mr. 
Churchill and Lord Fisher, and when, on October 20th, 
1914, Mr. Churchill asked Lord Fisher to become First 
Sea Lord he gladly assented to co-operating with him in 
using the great weapon Lord Fisher had helped to 

** Mr. Churchill and Lord Fisher worked in absolute 
accord until it came to the question of the Dardanelles, 


[5y kind permission of- The Pall Mall Gazette. 

The Kingfisher. 

" This bird has a somewhat long bill and is equipped with a brilliant 
blue back and tail ; the latter not of sufficient length to be in the 
way. Its usual cry is much like the typical cry of the family, but 
besides this it gives a low, hoarse croak from time to time when 
seated in the shadows. Although exclusively a water bird, it is not 
unfrequently found at some distance from any water. It is very 
wary, keeping a good look-out, and defends its breeding place with 
great courage and daring." — Zoologica! Studies. 


when Lord Fisher's instinct absolutely forbade him to 
give it any welcome. But finding himself the one solitary 
person dissenting from the project in the War Council, 
and knowing it to be of vital importance that he should 
personally see to the completion of the great shipbuild- 
ing programme of 612 vessels initiated on his recent 
advent to the Admiralty as First Sea Lord, also being 
confident that all these vessels could only be finished 
rapidly if he remained. Lord Fisher allowed himself to 
be persuaded by Lord Kitchener on January 28th, 191 5, 
to continue as First Sea Lord. That point now remains 
to be related in somewhat greater detail. 

'* To begin with : — When exactly 10 years previously 
Lord Fisher became First Sea Lord, on October 20th, 
1904, that very day occurred the Dogger Bank incident 
with Russia, and the Prime Minister made a speech at 
Southampton that seemed to make war with Russia a 
certainty ; so Lord Fisher, as First Sea Lord, immedi- 
ately looked into the Forcing of the Dardanelles in the 
event of Russia's movements necessitating British action 
in the Dardanelles. He then satisfied himself that, even 
with military co-operation, it was mighty hazardous, 
and he so represented it at that time. The proceedings 
of the Committee of Imperial Defence, however, will 
furnish full details respecting the Dardanelles, especially 
Field-Marshal Lord Nicholson's remarks when Director 
of Military Operations, and also those of Sir N. Lyttelton 
when Chief of the General Staff. 

" But Lord Fisher had had the great advantage of com- 
manding a battleship under Admiral Sir Geoffrey Phipps 

65 F 


Hornby when, during the Russo-Turkish War, that 
celebrated Flag Officer lay with the British Fleet near 
Constantinople, and Lord Fisher listened at the feet of 
that Naval Gamaliel when he supported Nelson's dictum 
that no sailor but a fool would ever attack a fort ! Never- 
theless, Nelson did attack Copenhagen—was really 
beaten, but he bluffed the Danish Crown Prince and 
came out ostensibly as victor. Nelson's Commander-in- 
Chief, Sir Hyde Parker, knew Nelson was beaten and 
signalled to him to retreat, but Nelson disobeyed orders 
as he did at St. Vincent and the Nile, and with equal 

*' We might have done the same bluff with the Turks, 
had promptitude and decision directed us, but pro- 
crastination, indecision, and vacillation dogged us instead. 
The 29th Division oscillated for weeks between France 
and Turkey. {See below my notes of the War Council 
Meetings of February 19th and 24th.) 

''Note. — See Mr. Churchill's statement at the 19th 
Meeting of the War Council on May 14th, 191 5, that 
had it been known three months previously that an 
English army of 100,000 men would have been available 
for the attack on the Dardanelles, the naval attack would 
never have been undertaken. 

*' The War Council met on May 14th, 1915, and certain 
steps proposed to be taken by Mr. Churchill immedi- 
ately afterwards, decided Lord Fisher that he could no 
longer support the Dardanelles operations. He could 
not go further in this project with Mr. Churchill, and was 
himself convinced that we should seize that moment to 



give up the Dardanelles operations. So Lord Fisher 

"Lord Fisher's parting with Mr. Churchill was pathetic, 
but it was the only way out. When the Prime Minister 
read to Lord Fisher Lord Kitchener's letter to the Prime 
Minister attacking Lord Fisher for withdrawing the 
' Queen Elizabeth ' from certain destruction at the 
Dardanelles, Lord Fisher then realised how splendid 
had been Mr. Churchill's support of him as to her 
withdrawal. A few days afterwards the German sub- 
marine that had been hovering round the British Fleet 
for a fortnight blew up the wooden image of the super- 
Dreadnought we had sent out there as a bait for the 
German submarines, showing how the Germans realised 
the ' Queen Elizabeth's ' value in letting all the other 
older battleships alone for about a fortnight till they 
thought they really had the ' Queen Elizabeth ' in this 
wooden prototype ! 

" It must be emphasised on Mr. Churchill's behalf that 
he had the whole Naval opinion at the Admiralty as well 
as the Naval opinion at the Dardanelles with him — Lord 
Fisher was the only dissentient. 

" It must be again repeated that though Lord Fisher 
was so decidedly against the Dardanelles operations from 
the very first, yet he was very largely influenced to remain 
because he was convinced it was of vital importance to 
the nation to carry out the large building programme 
initiated by him, which was to enable the Navy to deal 
such a decisive blow in the decisive theatre (in Northern 
Waters) as would shorten the war — by the great projects 

67 F 2 


alluded to by Mr. Churchill at the 9th meeting of the 
War Council on January 28th, 191 5, when he described 
the Three Naval phases of the War, leading to our occupa- 
tion of the Baltic as being the supreme end to be attained. 
" Had Lord Fisher maintained his resignation on 28th 
January, 1915, the Dardanelles enterprise would certainly 
still have gone on, because it was considered a matter of 
vital political expediency (see Mr. Balfour's memorandum 
of 24th February, 1915), but those 612 new vessels would 
not have been built, or they would have been so delayed 
as to be useless. As it was, by Lord Fisher's leaving the 
Admiralty even so late as May 22nd, 1915, there was 
great delay in the completion of the five fast Battle 
Cruisers and in the laying down of further Destroyers 
and Submarines, and, in fact, four large Monitors 
(some of which had been advanced one thousand tons) 
that had been considerably advanced were stopped 
altogether for a time and the further building of fast 
Battle Cruisers was given up. Lord Fisher had prepared 
a design for a very fast Battle Cruiser carrying six 20-inch 
guns, and the model was completed. She was of excep- 
tionally light draught of water and of exceptionally high 
speed. He had arranged for the manufacture of these 
20-inch guns. 

" It has also to be emphasised that that programme of 
new vessels owed its inception to a great plan, sketched 
out in secret memoranda, which it can be confidently 
asserted would have produced such great military results 
as would certainly have ended the war in 191 5. 

" These plans were in addition to that concurred in by 



Sir John French in his three visits to the War Council 

in November, 19 14, for joint action of the British Army 

and the British Fleet on the Belgian Coast. 

''Note. — See Note to 8th meeting of the War Council 
on January 13th, 19 15, where Lord Fisher demurs to 
any Naval action without the co-operation of the British 
Army along the coast." 

I quote here a report of the opinion of Mr. Andrew 

Fisher, the High Commissioner of Australia, and 

formerly Prime Minister of Australia ; a member of the 

Dardanelles Commission, on the duty of departmental 

advisers : — 

" I am of opinion it would seal the fate of responsible 
government if servants of the State were to share the 
responsibility of Ministers to Parliament and to the people 
on matters of public policy. The Minister has command 
of the opinions and views of all officers of the department 
he administers on matters of public policy. Good 
stewardship demands from Ministers of the Crown frank, 
fair, full statements of all opinions of trusted experienced 
officials to colleagues when they have direct reference 
to matters of high policy." / give prominence to this 
because Ministers, and Ministers only, must be responsible 
to the democracy. 

If they find themselves in conffict with their expert 
advisers they shoidd sack the advisers or themselves resign. 
An official, whether a Sea Lord or a junior clerk — having 
been asked a question by his immediate chief and 
given his answer and the chief acts contrary to advice — 
should not be subjected to reprimand for not stating to 
the board of directors that he disagrees with his chief 
or that he has given a reluctant consent. If there is blame 
it rests with the Minister and not with his subordinates. 

" / dissent in the strongest terms^^ says Mr. Fisher in 
his Minority Report, " from any suggestion that the Depart- 



mental Adviser of a Minister in his company at a Council 
meeting should express any views at all other than to the 
Minister and through him unless specifically invited to do so. ^^ 

Sir Thomas Mackenzie expresses exactly the same view. 
Mr. Asquith, in the House of Commons on November 2, 
1915, said : — 

"It is the duty of the Government — of any Govern- 
ment — to rely very largely upon the advice of its military 
and naval counsellors ; but in the long run, a Govern- 
ment which is w^orthy of the name, which is adequate 
in the discharge of the trust which the nation reposes in 
it, must bring all these things into some kind of propor- 
tion one to the other, and sometimes it is not only 
expedient, but necessary, to run risks and to encounter 
dangers which pure naval or military policy would warn 
you against." 

The Government and the War Council knew my 
opinion — as I told the Dardanelles Commission, it was 
known to all. It was known even to the charwomen at 
the Admiralty. It was my duty to acquiesce cheerfully 
and do my best, but when the moment came that there 
was jeopardy to the Nation I resigned. 

Such is the stupidity of the General Public — and such 
was the stupidity of Lord Cromer — that it was not realized 
there would be an end of Parliamentary Government 
and of the People's will, therefore, being followed, if 
experts were able to override a Government Policy. 
Sea Lords are the servants of the Government. Having 
given their advice, then it's their duty to carry out the 
conmiands of the political party in power until the moment 
comes when they feel they can no longer support a policy 
which they are convinced is disastrous. 



Here follows a summary for the Chairman of the Dar- 
danelles Commission of my evidence (handed to Lord 
Cromer, but not circulated by him or printed in the 
Report of the Commission) : — 

*' Mr. Churchill and I worked in absolute accord at 
the Admiralty until it came to the question of the 

"I was absolutely unable to give the Dardanelles 
proposal any welcome, for there was the Nelsonic dictum 
that ' any sailor who attacked a fort was a fool.' 

"My direct personal knowledge of the Dardanelles 
problem dates back many years. I had had the great 
advantage of commanding a battleship under Admiral 
Sir Geoffrey Phipps Hornby when, during the Russo- 
Turkish War, that celebrated flag officer took the Fleet 
through the Dardanelles. 

" I had again knowledge of the subject as Commander- 
in-Chief of the Mediterranean Fleet for three years 
during the Boer War, when for a long period the Fleet 
under my command lay at Lemnos oflt the mouth of the 
Dardanelles, thus affording me means of close study 
of the feasibility of forcing the Straits. 

" When I became First Sea Lord on October 20th, 
1904, there arrived that very day the news of the Dogger 
Bank incident with Russia. 

" In my official capacity, in view of the possibility of a 
war with Russia, I immediately examined the question 
of the forcing of the Dardanelles, and I satisfied myself 
at that time that even with military co-operation the 
operation was mighty hazardous. 

" Basing myself on the experience gained over so many 
years, when the project was mooted in the present War 
my opinion was that the attempt to force the Dardanelles 
would not succeed. 

" I was the only member of the War Council who 
dissented from the project, but I did not carry my 



dissent to the point of resignation because I understood 
that there were overwhelming poHtical reasons why the 
attempt at least should be made. 

" Moreover, I felt it to be of vital importance that I 
should personally see to the completion of the great 
shipbuilding programme which was then under construc- 
tion, which had been initiated by me on my advent to 
the Admiralty, and which included no less than 612 

" The change in my opinion as to the relative importance 
of the probable failure in the Dardanelles began when 
the ever-increasing drain upon the Fleet, as the result 
of the prosecution of the Dardanelles undertaking, 
reached a point at which in my opinion it destroyed the 
possibility of other naval operations which I had in 
view, and even approached to jeopardising our naval 
supremacy in the decisive theatre of the War. 

" I may be pressed with the question why did I not 
carry my objections to the point of resignation when the 
decision was first reached to attack the Dardanelles with 
naval forces. 

" In my judgment it is not the business of the chief 
technical advisers of the Government to resign because 
their advice is not accepted, unless they are of opinion 
that the operation proposed must lead to disastrous 

'* The attempt to force the Dardanelles, though a 
failure, would not have been disastrous so long as the 
ships employed could be withdrawn at any moment, and 
only such vessels were engaged, as in the beginning of 
the operations was in fact the case, as could be spared 
without detriment to the general service of the Fleet. 

*' I may next be asked whether I made any protest at 
the War Council when the First Lord proposed the 
Dardanelles enterprise, or at any later date. 

** Mr. Churchill knew my opinion. I did not think it 
would tend towards good relations between the First 
Lord and myself nor to the smooth working of the Board 



of Admiralty to raise objections in the War Council's 
discussions. My opinion being known to Mr. Churchill 
in what I regarded as the proper constitutional way, I 
preferred thereafter to remain silent. 

" When the operation was undertaken my duty from 
that time onwards was confined to seeing that the Govern- 
ment plan was carried out as successfully as possible with 
the available means. 

"I did everything I could to secure its success, and I 
only resigned when the drain it was making on the 
resources of the Navy became so great as to jeopardise 
the major operations of the Fleet. 

"On May 14th, 191 5, the War Council made it clear 
to me that the great projects in Northern waters which I 
had in view in laying down the Armada of new vessels 
were at an end, and the further drain on our naval 
resources foreshadowed that evening convinced me that 
I could no longer countenance the Dardanelles opera- 
tions, and the next day I resigned. 

" It seemed to me that I was faced at last by a pro- 
gressive frustration of my main scheme of naval strategy. 

" Gradually the crowning work of war construction was 
being diverted and perverted from its original aim. 
The Monitors, for instance, planned for the banks and 
shallows of Northern waters, were sent off to the 
Mediterranean where they had never been meant to 


" I felt I was right in remaining in office until this 
situation, never contemplated at first by anyone, was 
accepted by the War Council. I felt right in resigning 
on this decision. 

" My conduct and the interpretation of my responsi- 
bility I respectfully submit to the judgment of the 
Committee. Perhaps I may be allowed to say that as 
regards the opinion I held I was right. 


October ythj 19 16." 



This is a letter which I wrote to Colonel Sir Maurice 
Hankey, Secretary of the War Council : — 

September ist, 1916. 

Dear Hankey, 

In reply to your letter in which you propose to 
give only one extract concerning my hostility to the 
Dardanelles enterprise, do you not think that the following 
words in the official Print of Proceedings of War Council 
should be inserted in your report in justice to me ? 

" igth Meeting of the War Council, May i^th, 1915. — 
Lord Fisher reminded the War Council that he had 
been no party to the Dardanelles operations. When 
the matter was first under consideration he had stated 
his opinion to the Prime Minister at a private interview." 

The reason I abstained from any further pronounce- 
ment was stated. 

Yours, etc., 

(Signed) Fisher. 

I note you will kindly testify to the accuracy of my 
statement that I left the Council table with the intention 
of resigning, but yielded to Kitchener's entreaty to 

Have you the letter I wrote on January 28th, 19 15, 
to Mr. Asquith, beginning : — 

" I am giving this note to Colonel Hankey to hand 

to you ," because in it occur these following 

words : — *' At any moment the great crisis may occur 
in the North Sea, for the German High Sea Fleet may 
be driven to fight by the German Military Headquarters, 
as part of some great German military operation." 

It looks as if Hindenburg might try such a coup now. 

I heard from Jellicoe a few days since that the Zeppelins 
now made the German submarines very formidable, and 
by way of example he pointed out that the '* Falmouth " 



was torpedoed even when at a speed of 25 knots and 
zigzagging every five minutes. 

In some notes compiled on this matter I find it 
recorded that I was present at the meeting on the 
13th January, when the plan was first proposed and 
approved in principle, and was also present at the 
meeting on the evening of the 28th January, when 
Mr. Churchill announced that the Admiralty had decided 
to push on with the project. On the morning of the 
28th January I said that I had understood that this 
question would not be raised to-day, and that the 
Prime Minister was well aware of my own views in 
regard to it. 

After the failure of the naval attack on the Narrows 
on the 1 8th March, I remarked at the meeting 
on the 19th March that I had always said that a 
loss of 12 battleships must be expected before the 
Dardanelles could be forced by the Navy alone, and 
that I still adhered to this view. 

Also, at the meeting held on the 14th May, I reminded 
the War Council that I had been no party to the 
Dardanelles operations. When the matter was under 
consideration I had stated my opinion to the Prime 
Minister at a private interview. 

Some light is perhaps thrown on my general attitude 
towards naval attacks by the following remark, made at 
the meeting held on the 13th January, which related, not 
to the Dardanelles project, but to a proposed naval attack 
on Zeebrugge : — 

I said that the Navy had only a limited number of 
battleships to lose, and would probably sustain losses in 
an attack on Zeebrugge. I demurred to any attempt to 
attack Zeebrugge without the co-operation of the Army 
along the coast. 

This note is here inserted because the Dardanelles 

operation interfered with the project of certain action 



in the Decisive Theatre of the War explained in a Memo- 
randum given to the Prime Minister on January 25th, 
19 1 5, but it has been decided to be too secret for publica- 
tion even now, so it is not included in these papers. 

A Memorandum was also submitted by me on 
General Naval Policy, deprecating the use of Naval 
Force in Coast Operations unsupported by Military 
Force and emphasising the supreme importance of main- 
taining the unchallengeable strength of the Grand Fleet 
in the Decisive Theatre. 

Lord Fisher to Colonel Sir Maurice Hankey 

September 6th, 1916. 

Dear Hankey, 

I HAVE only just this very moment received your 
letter, dated September 4th, and its enclosure, for I had 
suddenly to leave the address you wrote to on important 
official business. . . . 

The Prime Minister and Kitchener knew from me on 
January yth or January 8th that I objected to the 
Dardanelles enterprise, but I admit this does not come 
under your official cognisance as Secretary of the War 
Council, consequently I cannot press you in the matter. 

If I ever am allowed hereafter to see what you have 
prepared for Lord Cromer's Committee of Inquiry I 
shall be better able to judge of its personal application 
to myself. 

I was told yesterday by an influential Parliamentary 
friend that the likelihood was that all would emerge 
from the Dardanelles Inquiry as free from blame, except 
one person only — Lord Fisher ! That really would be 
comic ! considering that I was the only sufferer by it, 
by loss of office and of an immense certainty in my mind 
of Big Things in the North Sea and Baltic by the 



unparalleled Armada we were building so marvellously 
quickly, e.g.^ submarines in five months instead of 14, 
and destroyers in nine months instead of 18 ! and 
immense fast Battle Cruisers with 18-inch and 15-inch 
guns in II months instead of two years ! PF/zj, it was 
the desolation of rny life to leave the Admiralty at that 
momefit ! Knowing that once out I should never get 
back ! The *' wherefore " you know ! 

Yours, etc., 
(Signed) Fisher, 

6th September, 19 16. 

Lord Fisher to the Right Hon. Winston Churchill. 

'* The Baltic a German LakeJ'^ 
My Dear Winston, 

I AM here for a few days longer before rejoining my 
" Wise men " at Victory House — 

" The World forgetting, 
By the World forgot ! " 

but some Headlines in the newspapers have utterly upset 
me ! Terrible ! ! 

" The German Fleet to assist the Land operations in 
the Baltic." 

" Landing the German Army South of Reval." 

We are five times stronger at Sea than our enemies and 
here is a small Fleet that we could gobble up in a few 
minutes playing the great vital Sea part of landing an 
Army in the enemies' rear and probably capturing the 
Russian Capital by Sea ! 

This is *' Holding the ring " with a vengeance ! 

Are we really incapable of a big Enterprise ? 

I hear that a new order of Knighthood is on the tapis 



— O.M.G. (Oh ! My God !)— Shower it on the 
Admirahy ! ! 



P.S.— In War, you want—" SURPRISE." 
To beget " SURPRISE " you want 
" IMAGINATION " to go to bed with 

Admiral von Spec's first words at the Falkland Islands 
when he saw the British Battle Cruisers were 

" Oh, what a surprise " ! 

And he went to the bottom with 3,000 men and 11 ships, 
and not one man killed or wounded on board the 
" Invincible." 

Lord Fisher's Notes of his own Special Interven- 
tions AT War Council Meetings 

Notes.— The first two meetings of the War Committee 
took place on August ^th and August 6th, 19 14. 

Lord Fisher was appointed First Sea Lord on October 
20th, 1914. 

The third meeting of the War Council {being the first 
after Lord Fisher's appointment) took place on November 
2$th, 1914. 

'T^rd Meeting of the War Council, November 2$th, 1914. 

Lord Fisher asked whether Greece might not attack 
Gallipoli in conjunction with Bulgaria. 

It was pointed out Bulgaria blocked the way. 

{Note. — From his experience of three years as Com- 
mander-in-Chief of the Mediterranean Fleet, Lord 
Fisher had formed the conviction that Bulgaria was the 



key of the situation, and this he had pointed out to Lord 
Kitchener personally at the War Office.) 

/^th Meeting of War Council^ December ist, 1914- 

Lord Fisher pressed for the adoption of the Offensive. 

The Defensive attitude of the Fleet was bad for its 
morale, and was no real protection from enemy sub- 

The suggestion of seizing an island off the German 
coast was adjourned. 

yth Meeting of IVar Council , Jafiuary Sthy 1915. 


Asked whether the bombardment of Zeebrugge would 
materially lessen the risks to transports and other ships 
in the English Channel, Lord Fisher replied that he 
thought not. In his opinion the danger involved in the 
operation (in loss of ships) would outweigh the results. 

Sth Meeting of War Council j January i^th, 19 15. 


Lord Fisher said that the Navy had not unlimited 
battleships to lose, and there would probably be losses in 
any attack on Zeebrugge. He objected to any attack on 
Zeebrugge without the co-operation of the Army along the 

The Dardanelles was mentioned, Mr. Churchill 
stating that he had exchanged telegrams with Admiral 
Carden as to the possibilities of a naval attack on the 
Dardanelles. He had taken this step because Lord 
Kitchener, in a letter to him, dated January 3rd, had urged 
instant naval action at the Dardanelles to relieve the 
pressure on the Grand Duke Nicholas in the Caucasus. 



i)th Meeting of War Council^ January 2Sth, 1915, 

11.30 a.m. 

(Note. — Before this meeting the Prime Minister dis- 
cussed with Mr. Churchill and Lord Fisher the proposed 
Dardanelles operations and decided in favour of con- 
sidering the project in opposition to Lord Fisher's 

The Dardanelles. 

Mr. Churchill asked if the War Council attached 
importance to the proposed Dardanelles operations, which 
undoubtedly involved risks. 

Lord Fisher said that he had understood that this 
question was not to be raised at this meeting. The 
Prime Minister knew his (Lord Fisher's) views on the 

The Prime Minister said that, in view of what had 
already been done, the question could not be left in 

(Note. — Thereupon Lord Fisher left the Council table. 
He was followed by Lord Kitchener, who asked him 
what he intended to do. Lord Fisher replied to Lord 
Kitchener that he would not return to the Council table, 
and would resign his office as First Sea Lord. Lord 
Kitchener then pointed out to Lord Fisher that he (Lord 
Fisher) was the only dissentient, and that the Dardanelles 
operations had been decided upon by the Prime Minister ; 
and he urged on Lord Fisher that his duty to his country 
was to go on carrying out the duties of First Sea Lord. 
After further talk Lord Fisher reluctantly gave in to Lord 
Kitchener and went back to the Council table. ^) 

^ It must be emphasised here, as well as iu regard to Lord Kitchener's 
statement to the War Council dated May 14th, 1915, that Lord Fisher 
considered that it would be both improper and unseemly for him to 
enter into an altercation either at the War Council or elsewhere with 
his chief Mr. Churchill, the First Lord. Silence or resignation was the 
right course. 


The First Sea Lord. By William Nicholson. 


Mr. Churchill stated that the ultimate object of the 
Navy was to obtain access to the Baltic. There were, he 
said, three Naval phases : — 

I St phase. — The clearing of the outer seas (this 

had been accomplished). 
2nd phase. — -The clearing of the North Sea. 
yd phase. — The clearing of the Baltic. 

Mr. Churchill laid stress on the importance of the third 
phase and said this latter operation was of great importance, 
as Germany always had been, and still was, very nervous 
of an attack from the Baltic. For this purpose special 
vessels were required, and the First Sea Lord (Lord 
Fisher) had designed cruisers, &c., &c.^ The meeting 
was adjourned to 6.30 the same evening. 

loth Meeting of War Council {same day), January zSth, 

1915, at 6.2,0 p.m. 

The plan of a naval attack on Zeebrugge was abandoned 
and the Dardanelles operations were decided upon. 

nth Meeting of War Council, February gth, 191 5. 

Mr. Churchill reported that the Naval attack on the 
Dardanelles would take place on February 15th. (This 
was afterwards postponed until February 19th.) 

i2th Meeting of War Council, February i6th, 1915. 

Agreed that the 29th Division should be sent to the 
Dardanelles and other arrangements made to support the 
Naval attack on the Dardanelles. 

The Admiralty were authorised and pressed to build 
or obtain special craft for landing 50,000 men wherever 
a landing might be required. 

1 This was the Armada of 612 vessels authorised by Mr. Lloyd 
George as Chancellor of the Exchequer, 



13//? Meeti?ig of War Council, February igth, 1915. 

Transports ordered to be got ready : — • 

1. To convey troops from Egypt to the Dardanelles ; 

2. To convey the 29th Division from England to the 

but no final decision to be taken as to 2gth Division. 

i\th Meeting of War Council, February z^th, 191 5. 

General Birdwood selected to join Admiral Garden 
before the Dardanelles. 

The decision as to sending 2gth Division postponed. 

i^th Meeting of War Council, February 26th , 19 15. 

Mr. Ghurchill said he could not offer any assurance 
of success in the Dardanelles attack. 

i6th Meeting of War Council, March yd, 191 5. 

The future of Gonstantinople was discussed, and what 
should be the next step after the Dardanelles. Lord 
Lansdowne and Mr. Bonar Law, besides Mr. Balfour, 
were present. 

I'^th Meeting of War Council, March 10th, 191 5. 

The War Office was directed to prepare a memorandum 
on the strategical advantages of Alexandretta. 

iSth Meeting of War Council, March igth, 191 5. 

The sinking of the battleships '* Irresistible," *' Ocean," 
and " Bouvet," the running ashore of " Gaulois " and the 
disablement of " Inflexible," were discussed. 

The continuance of naval operations against Darda- 



nelles was authorised if the Admiral at the Dardanelles 

Lord Fisher said that it was impossible to explain 
away the sinking of four battleships. He had always 
said that a loss of 12 battleships must be expected before 
the Dardanelles could be forced by the Navy alone. He 
still adhered to this view. 

Note. — There was no meeting of the War Council 
from March 19th to May 14th. 

i()th Meeting of War Council, May 14th, 1915. 

Mr. Churchill reported that one, or perhaps two, 
German submarines had arrived in the Eastern Mediter- 
ranean, and that the attack on the Dardanelles had now 
become primarily a military rather than a naval operation. 
It had been decided to recall the " Queen Elizabeth." 
Mr. Churchill stated that if it had been known three 
months ago that an army of from 80,000 to 100,000 men 
would now be available for the attack on the Dardanelles 
the naval attack would never have been undertaken. 

Lord Fisher reminded the War Council that he had 
been no party to the Dardanelles operations. When the 
matter was first under consideration he had stated his 
opinion to the Prime Minister at a private interview. 

Conclusion.— Lord Kitchener to send a telegram to 
Sir Ian Hamilton asking what military force he would 
require in order to ensure success at the Dardanelles. 

Note.— On the evening of this day Mr. Churchill 
drafted orders for further naval reinforcements for the 
Dardanelles, a course to which Lord Fisher could not 

(This led to Lord Fisher leaving the Admiralty.) 

A Note on the Dardanelles Operations. 

Major-General Sir Chas. Caldwell, K.C.B., was 
Director of Military Operations at the War Office during 

83 G 2 


the whole period of the inception, incubation and execu- 
tion of the Dardanelles adventure, and in an article in 
the "Nineteenth Century" for March, 1919, he com- 
pletely disposes of the criticisms of Mr. G. A. Schreiner in 
his book " From Berlin to Bagdad," and of those of Mr. 
H. Morgenthau, the late United States Ambassador at 
Constantinople, in his recent book, '* The Secrets of 
the Bosphorus." Both these works convey the impres- 
sion that the general attack by the Fleet upon the Defences 
of the Narrows on March i8th, 191 5, very nearly 
succeeded. This verdict is not justified by the facts as 
certified by Sir C. Caldwell. He proves incontestably 
that, even in the very unlikely case of indirect bombard- 
ment really effecting its object in putting the batteries 
out of action, there would still be the movable armament 
of the Turks left to worry and defeat the mine-sweepers, 
and there would still be the drifting mines and possibly 
the torpedoes fired from the shore to imperil the battle- 
ships. When peace did come it occupied the British 
Admiral a very long time to sweep up the mines. The 
damaging effect of Naval Bombardment was over-esti- 
mated — the extent to which the enemy's niovable arma- 
ment would interfere with mine-sw^eeping was not 
realised, and the extent and efficiency of the minefields 
were unknown and unheeded. Sir Charles Caldwell 
says : 

'* The whole thing was a mistake, quite apart from 
the disastrous influence which the premature and 
unsuccessful operation exerted over the subsequent land 

It is also most true what Sir C. Caldwell says that 
"the idea at the back of the sailors' minds (who so 
reluctantly assented to the political desire of getting 
possession of the Straits) was that it was an experiment 
which could always be instantly stopped if the under- 
taking were to be found too difficult." But alas ! ''the 



view of the War Council came to he that they could not now 
abandon the adventureJ'^ 

Marshal Liman von Sanders, who had charge of the 
defence of the Dardanelles, said : 

" The attack on the Straits by the Navy alone I don't 
think could ever have succeeded. I proposed to flood the 
Straits broadcast with mines, and it was my view that 
these were the main defences of the Dardanelles, and 
that the function of the guns of the forts was simply to 
protect the minefields from interference." 

The evidence given by Captain (now Rear-Admiral 
Sir) William Reginald Hall, R.N., Director of Naval 
Intelligence, at the Dardanelles Inquiry, conflicts with 
the facts as afterwards made known to us ; and no 
doubt this led to such official speeches as were made of 
our being so near victory at the Dardanelles — speeches 
which caused the further great sacrifice of life which took 
place after General Sir Charles Munro, the present 
Commander-in-Chief in India, had definitely and 
without any equivocation officially reported that the 
Evacuation of the Gallipoli Peninsula should immediately 
take place. 

Field Marshal Lord Nicholson asked Captain Hall, 
R.N., how far the Gallipoli Peninsula was under 
German control ; and his answer was that it was known 
that the defences had been inspected by a German and 
that many Germans were arriving there, whereas it is a 
matter of fact stated by General Liman von Sanders 
and confirmed from other sources that the Germans 
were in complete control ; and it took the British Admiral 
many weeks after the Armistice, helped by the Turks, to 
clear a way through the mines for his Flagship to take 
him to Constantinople. At question 4930 Captain Hall 
stated his spies made him convinced that he could have 
pushed through with only the loss of one or more ships 
and got to Constantinople on March i8th. 



An Episode of the War. 

A friend asking me yesterday (this was written in 
19 17) about the replacement of Tonnage destroyed by 
the German Submarines, and telHng me how quite 
ineffectual had been the course pursued up to the present 
when really we are in measurable distance of starvation 
or else an ignoble peace, I ventured to send him the 
enclosed account {written at the time) of how 612 Vessels 
were hustled ! As in all other War matters, it is Person- 
ality that is required, even more than Brains ! 

Statement of new Shipbuilding Inaugurated by Lord 


Note.— T]\Q following Memoranda are inserted as 
vital to the explanation of Lord Fisher's reluctance to 
resign on the Dardanelles question. It will be seen that 
Mr. Churchill had given him sole charge of the creation 
of this armada of new ships, intended for great projects 
in the Baltic and North Sea, 

Tuesday, November yd, 19 14. 

(^o/^._Lord Fisher had joined the Admiralty as 
First Sea Lord four davs before this meeting.) 

The First Sea Lord (Lord Fisher) presided at a Con- 
ference this day at the Admiralty. 

Present : 

Second Sea Lord. 

Third Sea Lord. 

Additional Civil Lord. 

Parliamentary and Financial Secretary. 




Naval Secretary to First Lord. 

Assistant Director of Torpedoes and another repre- 
sentative of the Director of Naval Ordnance. 
Commodore (S) and Assistant. 
Naval Assistant to First Sea Lord. 
Director of Naval Construction and an Assistant. 
Superintendent of Contract Work. 
Superintending Electrical Engineer. 
Director of Dockyard Work. 
Director of Naval Contracts and an Assistant. 

Lord Fisher explained to those present that this Con- 
ference had been summoned with the approval of Mr. 
Churchill, primarily with the object of expediting the 
delivery of 20 submarines which were to be at once 

but in the second place a big further building programme 
for a special purpose had been decided on. 

The question of placing orders for submarines had been 
under consideration for some time past. The First Lord, 
however, had assented to the cancellation of all existing 
papers on this subject, and a fresh start zvas to be made 
immediately on the lines of a special war routine. All red- 
tape methods — very proper in time of peace — were now 
to be abandoned, and everything must be entirely sub- 
ordinated to rapidity of construction. It was desired to 
impress upon all present the necessity of avoiding " paper" 
work, and of proceeding in the manner indicated in the 
secret memorandum which would be circulated next 
day in regard to the matter. Arrangements would be 
made in due course to obtain additional vessels of other 
types in a similar manner. 

Note. — After this, a meeting of all the shipbuilding 
firms of the United Kingdom took place at the Admiralty 
under the presidency of Lord Fisher, and the 



programme mentioned above in italics was parcelled out 
there and then. 

Building Programme. 

Meeting on November yd^ 19 14, four days after Lord 
Fisher became First Sea Lord. 

5 Battle Cruisers of 33 knots speed of light draught. 

2 Light Cruisers. 

5 Flotilla Leaders. 
56 Destroyers. 
64 Submarines. 
37 Monitors. 

24 River Light Gunboats. 
19 Whaling Steamers. 
24 Submarine Destroyers. 
50 Seagoing Patrol Boats. 
200 Motor Barges, oil engines. 
90 Smaller Barges. 
36 Sloops. 

612 Total. 

Memorandum by Lord Fisher, dated November 3RD, 
1 9 14, on laying down further numbers of 


There is no doubt that at this moment the supply of 
additional submarine boats in the shortest time possible 
is a matter of urgent national importance. They will not 
be obtained unless the whole engineering and ship- 
building resources of the country are enlisted in the 
effort, and the whole of the peace paraphernalia of red- 
tape routine and consequent delay are brushed on one 
side. I have carefully studied the submarine question 



during my retirement and have had many opportunities 
of keeping in touch with the present position and future 
possibilities, and am convinced that 20 submarines can 
be commenced at once, and that the first batch of these 
should be delivered in nine months, and the remainder 
at short intervals, completing the lot in 11 or 12 months. 

j<[0TE. — A dozen more were actually delivered in five 
months, and made the voyage alone from America to the 

To do this, however, cheapness must be entirely sub- 
ordinated to rapidity of construction, and the technical 
departments must have a free hand to take whatever 
steps are necessary to secure this end without any paper 
work whatever. Apparently this matter has been under 
consideration at the Admiralty already for a considerable 
time, but 

nothing has yet been ordered, 

and the First Lord has concurred that a fresh start 
be made independently of former papers, 

and the matter placed under my sole supervision, without 
any other officers or departments intervening between me 
and the professional officers. 

I will give instructions as to the work, and direct that 

if any difficulties are met with, they be brought to me 
instantly to be overcome. 

The professional officers' reports as to acceptances of 
tenders or allocation of work must be immediately 
carried out by the branches. 

Only in this way can we get the boats we require. To 
ensure the completion of the 20 boats, steps to be 
immediately taken to order the parts for the engines for 
25 boats. We know from experience that it is in the 
machinery parts that defects and failures occur in manu- 



facture of castings, forgings, etc., causing great delay. 
The parts for the extra five sets of engines will be available 
for these replacements, and eventually the five extra sets 
can be fitted in five further hulls. I propose to review 
the progress being made once a fortnight in the hope 
that it may be feasible to order still further submarines 
beyond these 20 now to be commenced at once. 

The training of sufficient officers and men for manning 
these extra boats must obviously be proceeded with forth- 
with, and those responsible must see to it that the officers 
and crews are ready. 

November 2^d, 19 14. 

NOTE by Lord Fisher. — I gave personal orders on this 
day to the Director of Mobilization to enter officers, 
men, and boys to the utmost limit regardless of present 
or supposed prospective wants, so when he left the 
Admiralty last week to be Captain of the Renowii he 
wrote me we wanted for nothing in the way of 
personnel ! 


August i$th, 1916. 




Be to my virtues very kind, 
Be to my faults a little blind. 

Two great Personalities came across my path when 
I commanded the Mediterranean Fleet for three years 
—the Sultan Abdul Hamid and Pope Leo XIII. They 
each greatly admired the astuteness of the other. 
Wily as Abdul was, the Pope was the subtler of the two. 
I did not have the interviews with the Pope which I 
might have had. There was no real occasion for it, 
as was the case with Abdul Hamid ; and also, though by 
the accident of birth I was of the Church of England 
(nearly everybody's religion is the accident of his birth), 
yet by taste and conviction I was a Covenanter, and 
therefore dead against the Pope. I would have loved 
to participate in the fight against Claverhouse at the 
battle of Drumclog. 

I happen to be looking at the battlefield of Drumclog 
now, and I hope to be buried in Drumclog Church — 
that is, if I die here ; or in the nearest Church to my 
death bed. I am particular to say this, as it avoids so 
much trouble ; and I don't have any more feeling for a 



cast-off body than for a cast-off suit of clothes. The 
body, after he's left it at death, is not the man himself, 
any more than his cast-off clothes. The only thing I 
ask for is a white marble tablet made by Mr. Bridgman of 
Lichfield (if he's still alive), with the inscription on it 
to be found in Croxall Church as written of herself by 
my sainted Godmother, of whom Byron wrote so beauti- 
fully : " She walks in beauty like the night." She 
deserved his poem. 

That was a big digression ; but being dictated, as it 
is, this is a conversation book and not a classic. Classics 
are dry. Conversation, taking no account of grammar 
or sequence, is more interesting. However, that's a 
matter of opinion. To talk is easy, but to write is 
terrific. Even Job thought so, that patient man. 

To resume Abdul Hamid and the Pope. 

Neither rats nor Jews can exist at Malta. The Maltese 
are too much for either. A Maltese can't get a living 
in the Levant. The Levantine is too much for the 
Maltese. No Levantine has ever been seen in Armenia. 
His late Majesty, Abdul Hamid, was an Armenian. He 
massacred more Armenians than had ever been massacred 
before. I've no doubt that can be explained. It is 
supposed that the Armenian coachman of the previous 
Sultan was his father. He certainly was not a bit like 
his presumed father, the Sultan. When I dined several 
times with the Sultan, his father's picture hung behind 
him and he used to ask people if they traced the Hkeness 
— there wasn't even a resemblance. 

The Sultan paid me a very special honour in sending 



his most distinguished Admiral with his Staff down to 
the British Fleet lying at Lemnos, to escort me up to 
Constantinople. This Admiral was known to me ; 
and it afforded me an opportunity, in the passage up the 
Dardanelles, of making a thorough inspection of the 
Forts and all the particulars connected with the defence 
of the Dardanelles. Nothing was kept back from me ; 
and incidentally it was through this inspection I became 
on such terms with the Pashas that a most amicable 
arrangement was reached between us as to our ever 
having to work in common. A very striking incident 
occurred illustrating Kiamil Pasha's remark to me of how 
every Turk in the Turkish Empire trusted the English 
when they trusted no one else. Kiamil's argument was 
that such trust was only natural after the Crimean War, 
and after the war with Russia^ — when Russia was at the 
gates of Constantinople, and the British Fleet, coming 
up under Admiral Hornby in a blinding snowstorm, 
encountering great risks and not knowing but what 
the Forts, bribed by Russia, might open fire — that 
British Fleet, by its opportune arrival, hardly a minute 
too soon, effectually banged, barred and bolted the 
gates of Constantinople against the Russians and pro- 
duced peace. And Kiamil's emphasis was that, not- 
withstanding all these wonderful things that England 
had done for Turkey, England never asked for the very 
smallest favour or concession in return, whereas other 
nations were all of them notoriously always grabbing ; 
and I told Kiamil Pasha that I felt very proud indeed, 
as a British Admiral, that England had this noble 



character and deserved it. The incident I referred to 
was this : Upon an observation being made to the 
Turkish Commander-in-Chief in the Dardanelles as to 
whether some written document wouldn't be satisfactory 
to him, he replied he wanted no such document — if a 
British Midshipman brought him a message, the word of 
a British Midshipman was enough for him. 

The views I formed at that period of the impregna- 
bility of the Dardanelles stood me in good stead when 
the Dogger Bank incident became known on Trafalgar Day, 
1904 — the very day I assumed the position of First Sea 
Lord of the Admiralty. We were within an ace of war 
with Russia ; the Prime Minister's speech at South- 
ampton, if consulted, will show that to be the case ; 
and I then drew up a secret memorandum with respect 
to the Dardanelles, which I alluded to at the War Council 
when the attack on the Dardanelles was being discussed, 
also in my official memorandum to Lord Cromer, the 
Chairman of the Dardanelles Commission, and in my 
evidence before the Commission. 

Personally I had a great regard for Abdul Hamid. 
Our Ambassadors had not. One who knew of these 
matters considered Abdul Hamid the greatest diplomat 
in Europe. I have mentioned elsewhere how greatly 
he resented Lord Salisbury throwing over the traditional 
English Alliance with Turkey and Lord Salisbury 
saying in a memorable speech that in making that alliance 
in past years we had backed the wrong horse. For 
were not (was Abdul Hamid's argument) England and 
Turkey the two greatest Mahomedan nations on Earth — 



England being somewhat the greater ? Kiamil — the 
Grand Old Man of Turkey — told me the same. He had 
been many times Grand Vizier, and I went especially 
with the Mediterranean Fleet to Smyrna to do him honour. 
He was the Vali there. His nickname in Turkey was 
** The Englishman " ; he was so devoted to us. He 
lamented to me that England had had only one diplo- 
matist of ability at Constantinople since the days of Sir 
Stratford Canning, whom he knew. His exception was 
a Sir William White, who had been a Consul somewhere 
in the Balkan States. No other English Ambassador 
had ever been able to cope with the Germans. I remon- 
strated with Kiamil by saying that Ambassadors now 
were only telegraph instruments — they only conveyed 
messages, and quite probably from some quite young 
man at the Foreign Office who had charge of that 
Department. I venture to remark here in passing what 
I have very frequently urged to those in authority^ — 
that the United States system is infinitely better than 
ours. Their diplomatic representatives are all fresh 
from home, with each change of President ; ours live 
all their lives abroad and practically cease to be English- 
men, and very often, like Solomon, marry foreign wives. 
Another thing I've urged on Authority is that some 
Great Personage should annually make a tour of in- 
spection of all the Diplomatic and Consular Agents 
(exactly as the big Banks have a travelling Inspector), 
who would ask how much he had increased the trade 
of the great British Commonwealth of Nations ; and 
if it weren't more than five per cent, would give him the 



sack. This Great Travelling Personage must be a man 
independent in means and station of any Government 
connexion and undertake the duty as Sir Edward (now 
Lord) Grey goes to Washington. The German Am- 
bassador at Constantinople used to go round selling 
beetroot sugar by the pound ! The English Ambassador 
said to me at a Garden Party he gave by those lovely 
sweet waters of the Bosphorus : " You see that 
fellow there with a white hat on ? He's the President 
of the British Chamber of Commerce ; he's an awful 
nuisance. He's always bothering me about some ped- 
dling commercial business ! " 

Abdul Hamid was exceeding kind to me and invited 
me to Constantinople, and he descanted (the Boer War 
then being on) what a risk there was of a big coalition 
against England. Curiously enough, his colleague the 
Pope had the same feeling. It is very deplorable, not 
only in the late War but also in the Boer War especially, 
how utterly our spies and our Intelligence Departments 
failed us. I was so impressed with what the Sultan told 
me that I set to work on my own account ; and through 
the patriotism of several magnificent Englishmen who 
occupied high commercial positions on the shores of the 
Mediterranean, I got a central forwarding station for 
information fixed up privately in Switzerland ; and it 
so happened, through a most Providential state of 
circumstances, that I was thus able to obtain all the cypher 
messages passing from the various Foreign Embassies, 
Consulates and Legations through a certain central 
focus, and I also obtained a key to their respective cyphers. 


{Fhoto Fiess For trait Bureau 

Admiral of the Fleet Lord Fisher, G.C.B., O.M., etc., 1917- 


The Chief man who did it for me was not in Government 
employ ; and I'm glad to think that he is now in a great 
position — though not rewarded as he should have been. 
No one is. But as to any information from an official 
source reaching me, who was so vastly interested in the 
matter, in the event of war where the Fleet should 
strike first — all our Diplomats and Consuls and Intelli- 
gence Departments might have been dead and buried. 
And how striking the case in the late War— the Prime 
Minister not knowing at the Guildhall Banquet on 
November 9th, 19 18, that the most humiliating armistice 
ever known would be accepted by the Germans within 
thirty-six hours, and one of our principal Cabinet 
Ministers saying the Sunday before that the Allies were 
at their last gasp. And read now Ludendorff, Tirpitz, 
Falkenhayn, Liman von Sanders, and others — ^they 
knew exactly what the Allies' condition was and what 
their own was. And if the Dardanelles evidence is ever 
published, it will be found absolutely ludicrous how the 
official spokesmen gravely give evidence that the Turks 
had come to their last round of ammunition and that 
the roofs of the houses in Constantinople were crowded 
with people looking for the advent of the approaching 
British Fleet. Why ! it took our Admiral, on the con- 
clusion of the Armistice, with the help of the Turks 
and all his own Fleet, several weeks to clear a passage 
through the mines, on which Marshal Liman von 
Sanders so accurately based his reliance against any 
likelihood of the Dardanelles being forced. 

97 H 




" Not the wise find salvation." — St. Paul. 

One of the charms of the Christian religion is that the 
Foolish confound the Wise. The Atheists are all brainy 
men. Myself, I hate a brainy man. All the brainy 
men said it was impossible to have aeroplanes. No 
brainy man ever sees that speed is armour. Directly the 
brainy men got a chance they clapped masses of armour 
on the " Hush-Hush " ships. They couldn't under- 
stand speed being armour, and said to themselves : 
" Didn't she draw so Httle water she could stand having 
weight put on her ? Shove on armour ! " and so bang 
went the speed, and the " Hush-Hush " ships, whose 
fabulous beauty was their forty shoregoing miles an 
hour, were slowed down by these brainy men. Don't 
jockeys have to carry weights ? Isn't it called handi- 
capping ? Isn't it the object to beat the favourite— the 
real winner ? There really is comfort in the 27th verse 
of the I St chapter of i Corinthians, where the Foolish 

are wiser than the Wise. 



What ! — A battle cruiser called the " Furious " going 
40 shore-going miles an hour with 18-inch guns reaching 
26 miles ! " Take the damn guns out and make it 
into an aeroplane ship ! " (And I'm not sure they could 
ever get the aeroplanes to land on her, owing to the 
heat of the funnels causing what they call " Air pockets " 
above the stern of the ship.) 

Yes ! and we still have ancient Admirals who believe 
in bows and arrows. There's a good deal to be said for 
bows and arrows. Our ancestors insisted on all church- 
yards being planted with yew trees to make bows. There 
you are ! It's a home product ! Not like those damn 
fools who get their oil from abroad ! And I have now 
the Memorandum with me delivered to me when I was 
Controller of the Navy by a member of the Board of 
Admiralty desiring to build 16 sailing ships ! Again, 
didn't the Board of Admiralty issue a solemn Board 
Minute that wood floated and iron sank ? So what a 
damnable thing to build iron ships ! Wasn't there 
another solemn Board Minute that steam was damnable 
and fatal to the supremacy of the British Navy ? Haven't 
we had Admirals writing very brainy articles in magazines 
to prove that there was nothing like a tortoise ? You 
could stand on the tortoise's back ; you weren't rushed 
by the tortoise, whereas these " Hush-Hush " ships, 
they were flimsy, and speed was worshipped as a god. 
One mighty man of valour (only " he was a leper " as 
regards sea fighting) told me at his luncheon table that 
when one of these " Hush-Hush " ships encountered at 
her full strength of nearly a hundred thousand horse power 

99 H 2 


a gale of wind in a mountainous sea she was actually 
strained ! It's all really too lovely ; but of course the 
humour of it can't be properly appreciated by the 
ordinary shore-going person. Yes, the brainy men, 
as I said before, crabbed the " Hush-Hush " ships ; 
they couldn't understand that speed was armour when 
associated with big guns because the speed enabled 
you to put your ship at such a distance that she couldn't 
be hit by the enemy, so it was the equivalent of im- 
penetrable armour although you had none of it, and you 
hit the enemy every round for the simple reason that 
your guns reached him when his could not reach you. 
Q.E.D. as Euclid says. What these splendid armour 
bearers say is " Give me a strong ship which no silly 
ass of a Captain can hurt." Of course this implies that 
if it's Buggins's turn to be Captain of a ship he gets it ; 
it's his turn, even if he is a silly ass. The phase of 
mind they have is this : " None of your highly strung 
racehorses for me, give me a good old cart-horse ! " 
So we build huge costly warships which will last a 
hundred years, but become obsolete in five. 

It all really is very funny — if it wasn't disastrous and 
ruinous ! And they are such a motley crew, these 
discontented ones who come together in John 
Bright's cave of AduUam ; and the Poor Dear Pubhc 
read an interview in a newspaper with some Com- 
mander Knowall ; and then a magazine article by 
Admiral Retrograde ; and some old *' cup of tea " 
writes to The Times (wonderful paper The Times 
— ' Equal Opportunity for All ") and there you are 1 



Lord Fisher is a damned fool ; and if he isn't a damned 
fool he's a maniac. Oh ! very well then, if he isn't a 
maniac, then he's a traitor. Wasn't Sir Julian Corbett 
very seriously asked if he (Sir John Fisher) hadn't sold 
his country to Germany ? Sir Julian thought the report 
was exaggerated, and that satisfied the Searcher after 
Truth. But I ask my listeners, however should we get 
on without these people ? How dull life would be with- 
out their dialectical subtleties and " reasoned statements " 
(I think they call them) and " considered judgments " ! 
My splendid dear old friend, who could hardly write 
his name, the Chief Engineer of the first ironclad, the 
" Warrior," told me, when I was Gunnery Lieutenant of 
her in 1861, that he had arranged for his monument 
at death being of " malleable " iron. No cast iron for 
him, he said ! It played you such pranks. So it is 
with these carbonised cranks who wield the pen, actuated 
by the wrong kind of grey matter of their brain, and, 
their tongues acidulated with lies, sway listening Senates 
and control our wars. It requires a Mr. Disraeli to deal 
with these victims of their own verbosity, who are the 
facile dupes of their vacuous imaginations and the 
servile copyists of the Billingsgatean line of argument ! 

10 1 



" A wise old owl lived in an oak ; 
The more he heard, the less he spoke ; 
The less he spoke, the more he heard ; 
Why can't we be like that wise old bird ? " 

Lord Haldane with his " art of clear thinking " 
elaborated the Imperial War Staff to its present mag- 
nificent dimensions. If any man wants a thing adver- 
tised, let him take it over there to the Secret Depart- 
ment. Only Sir Arthur Wilson and myself, when I 
was First Sea Lord of the Admiralty, knew the Naval 
plan of war. He was the man, so head-and-shoulders 
above all his fellows, who in his time was our undoubted, 
indeed our incomparable. Sea Leader. No one touched 
him ; and I am not sure that even now, though getting 
on for Dandolo's age, he would not still achieve old 
Dandolo's great deeds. What splendid lines they are 
from Byron : 

" Oh for one hour of blind old Dandolo, 
Th' Octogenarian Chief, Byzantium's Conquering Foe ! " 

I loved Sir Arthur Wilson's reported reply to the maniacs 
who think the Navy is the same as the Army. If it is 
not true it is hen trovalo. He said the Naval War Staff 



at the Admiralty consisted of himself — assisted by every 
soul inside the Admiralty, and he added, " including 
the charwomen " — they emptied the waste-paper baskets 
full of the plans of the amateur strategists — Cabinet and 

No such rubbish has ever been talked as about the 
Navy War Staff and also, in connexion therewith, the 
Admiralty clerks who are supposed to have wrecked its 
first inception in the period long ago when my great 
friend the late Admiral W. H. Hall was introduced into 
the Admiralty to form a Department of Naval Intelli- 
gence. I give my experience. I have been fifteen or 
more years in the Admiralty — Director of Ordnance and 
Torpedoes, Controller of the Navy, Second Sea Lord 
and First Sea Lord. Inside the Admiralty, for conducting 
administrative work, the Civil Service clerk is incom- 
parably superior to the Naval Officer. The Naval 
Officer makes a very bad clerk. He hasn't been brought 
up to it. He can't write a letter, and, as you can see 
from my dictation, he is both verbose and diffuse. The 
Clerk is terse and incisive. 

I'll go to instances. My Secretary, W. F. Nicholson, 
C.B., was really just as capable of being First Sea Lord 
as I was, when associated with my Naval Assistant. I 
often used to say that the First Sea Lord was in com- 
mission, and that I was the facile dupe of these two ; 
and I was blessed with a succession of Naval Assistants 
who knew so exactly their limitations as regards Admiralty 
work as allowed the Admiralty machine to be, as was 
officially stated, the best, most efficient, and most effective 



of all the Government Departments of the State. I 
have a note of this, made by the highest authority in the 
Civil Service. I would like here to name my Naval 
Assistants, because they were out and away without 
precedent the most able men in the Navy : Admirals 
Sir Reginald Bacon, Sir Charles Madden, Sir Henry 
Oliver, Sir Horace Hood, Sir Charles de Bartolome, 
Captain Richmond and Captain Crease — I'll back that 
set of names against the world. 

I was the originator of the Naval War College at 
Portsmouth — that's quite a different thing from an 
Imperial General Staff at the War Office. The vulgar 
error of Lord Haldane and others, who are always 
talking about ** Clear thinking " and such-like twaddle, 
is that they do not realise that the Army is so absolutely 
different from the Navy. Every condition in them both 
is different. The Navy is always at war, because 
it is always fighting winds and waves and fog. The 
Navy is ready for an absolute instant blow ; it has 
nothing to do with strategic railways, lines of com- 
munication, or bridging rivers, or crossing mountains, 
or the time of the year, when the Balkans may be 
snowed under, and mountain passes may be impassable. 
No ! the ocean is limitless and unobstructed ; and the 
fleet, each ship manned, gunned, provisioned and 
fuelled, ready to fight within five minutes. The Army 
not only has to mobilize, but — thank God ! this being 
an island — it has to be carried somewhere by the Navy, 
no matter where it acts. I observe here that when Lord 
Kitchener went to Australia to inaugurate the scheme of 



Defence, he forgot Australia was an island. What 
Australia wants to make it impregnable is not Conscrip- 
tion — it's Submarines. However, I fancy Kitchener 
was sent there to get him out of the way. They wanted 
me to go to Australia, but I didn't.^ Jellicoe has gone 
there. But then, Jellicoe hasn't always sufficient fore- 
sight ; exempli gratia^ he was persuaded to take the 
deplorable step of giving up command of the Grand 
Fleet and going as First Sea Lord of the Admiralty. 
Never was anything so regrettable. I told the War 
Council that I am very glad Nelson never went to the 
Admiralty, and that Nelson would have made an awful 
hash of it. Nelson was a fighter, not an administrator 
and a snake charmer — that's what a First Sea Lord 
has to be. 

Gross von Schwartzhoff told me on the sands of 
Scheveningen : — 

*' Your Navy can strike in thirteen hours ; 
Our Army can't under thirteen days." 

Frau von Pohl tells us the Germans did expect us so to 
strike, but Nelson was in heaven (Dear Reader, look 
again at what Frau von Pohl said, you'll find it in 
Chapter IIL). On one occasion I got into a most 
unpleasant atmosphere. I arrived at a country house late 
at night, and at breakfast in the morning, I not knowing 
who the guests were, a Cabinet Minister enunciated the 
proposition that sea and land war were both in principle 
and practice alike. At once getting up from the breakfast 

1 At my entreaty a far better man went. Admiral Sir Reginald 
Henderson, G.C.B. He is a splendid seaman and he devised a splendid 



table, in the heat of the moment, and not knowing that 
distinguished miUtary officers were there, I said, " Any 
silly ass could be a General." I graphically illus- 
trated my meaning. I gave the contrast between a sea 
and a land battle. The General is somewhere behind the 
fighting line, or he ought to be. The Admiral has got 
to be in the fighting line, or he ought to be. The Admiral 
is indeed like the young Subaltern, he is often the first 
*' Over the top." The General, at a telescopic distance 
from the battle scene and surrounded by his Kitcheners, 
and his Ludendorffs, and his Gross von Schwartzhoffs, 
has plenty of time for the " Clear thinking " a /a Lord 
Haldane ; and then, acting on the advice of those sur- 
rounding him, he takes his measures. So far as I can 
make out from the Ludendorff extracts in The Times^ 
Hindenburg, the Generalissimo, was clearly not in it. 
He was " the silly ass " ! Ludendorft' did it all as 
Chief of the Staff. 

Now what's the corresponding case at sea ? The 
smoke of the enemy, not even the tops of his funnels, 
can be seen on the horizon. (I proved this myself with 
the great Mediterranean fleet divided into two portions.) 
Within twenty minutes the action is decided ! Realise 
this — it takes some minutes for the Admiral to get his 
breeches on, to get on deck and take in the situation ; 
and it takes a good many more minutes to deploy the 
Fleet from its Cruising Disposition into its Fighting 
Disposition. In the Cruising Disposition his guns are 
masked, one ship interfering with the fire of another. 
The Fleet for Battle has to be so disposed that all the 



guns, or as many as possible, can concentrate on one or 
a portion of the enemy's fleet. Each fleet pushes on at 
its utmost speed to meet the other, hoping to catch the 
other undeployed. Every telescope in the fleet (and 
there are myriads) is looking at the Admiral as he goes to 
the topmost and best vantage spot on board his flag ship 
to see the enemy, and sees him alone outlined against 
the sky — neither time nor room for a staff around him, 
and if there were they'd say, " It's not the Admiral who is 
doing it," and be demoralized accordingly — fatal to 
victory. In the fleet the Admiral's got to be like Nelson 
— " the personal touch " so that " any silly ass can't 
be an Admiral " ; and the people of the Fleet watch him 
with unutterable suspense to see what signal goes up 
to alter the formation of the fleet — a formation on which 
depends Victory or Defeat. So it was that Togo won 
that second Trafalgar ; he did what is technically known 
as '* crossing the T," which means he got the guns of 
his fleet all to bear, all free to fire, while those of the enemy 
were masked by his own ships. One by one Rozhdest- 
vensky's ships went to the bottom, under the concerted 
action of concentrated fire. What does it ? Speed. 
And what actuates it ? One mind, and one mind only. 
Goschen was right (when First Lord of the Admiralty) ; 
he quoted that old Athenian Admiral who, when asked 
what governed a sea battle, replied, " Providence," and 
then with emphasis he added : " and a good Admiral.'' 
Which reminds me too of Cromwell — a pious man, we 
all know ; when asked a somewhat similar question as 
to what ruled the world, he replied " The Fear of the 



Lord," and he added with an emphasis equal to that of 
the Athenian Admiral — ** And a broomstick." No one 
votes more for the Sermon on the Mount than I do ; 
but I say to a blithering fool " Begone ! " 

A Naval War Staff at the Admiralty is a very excellent 
organisation for cutting out and arranging foreign news- 
paper clippings in such an intelligent disposition as will 
enable the First Sea Lord to take in at a glance who is 
likely amongst the foreigners to be the biggest fool or 
the greatest poltroon, who will be opposed to his own 
trusted and personally selected Nelson who commands 
the British Fleet. The First Sea Lord and the Chief 
Admiral afloat have got to be Siamese twins. And 
when the war comes, the Naval War Staff at the 
Admiralty, listening every moment to the enemy's wireless 
messages (if he dare use it), enables the First Sea Lord 
to let his twin at sea know exactly what is going on. He 
takes in the wireless, and not necessarily the Admiral 
afloat, on account of the far greater power of reception 
in a land installation as compared with that on a ship. 
When you see that spider's web of lines of wire on the 
top of the Admiralty, then thank God this is more or less 
a free country, as it got put up by a cloud of bluejackets 
before a rat was smelt ! An intercepted German Naval 
letter at the time gave me personally great delight, for 
it truly divined that wireless was the weapon of the 
strong Navy. For the development of the wireless has 
been such that now you can get the direction of one who 
speaks and go for him ; so the German daren't open 
his mouth. But if he does, of course the message is in 



cypher ; and it's the elucidation of that cypher which is 
one of the crowning glories of the Admiralty work in the 
late war. In my time they never failed once in that 
elucidation. Yes, wireless is the weapon of the strong. 
So also is the Submarine — that is if they are sufficiently 
developed and diversified and properly appHed, but you 
must have quantities and multiplicity of species. 

What you want to do is to fight the enemy's fleet, 
make him come out from under the shelter of his forts, 
where his ships are hiding like rabbits in a hole — put in the 
ferrets and out come the rabbits, or they kill 'em where 
they are. Nelson blockading Toulon, as he told the 
Lord Mayor of London in one of his most characteristic 
letters, didn't want to keep the French fleet in ; he 
wanted them to come out and fight. But he kept close 
in for fear they should evade him in darkness or in fog. 

But the mischief of a Naval War Staff is peculiar to 
the Navy. I understand it is quite different in the 
Army — I don't know. The mischief to the Navy is that 
the very ablest of our Officers, both young and old, get 
attracted by the brainy work and by the shore-going 
appointment. I asked a splendid specimen once what- 
ever made him go in for being a Marine Officer. He 
said he wanted to be with his wife ! Well, it's natural. 
I know a case of a Sea Officer whose long absence caused 
his children not to recognise him when he came home 
from China and, indeed, they were frightened of him. 
The land is a shocking bad training ground for the sea. 
I once heard one bluejacket say to another the reason he 
believed in the Bible was that in heaven there is " no more 



sea." I didn't realise it at the time, but I looked up 
*' Revelations " and found it was so. A shallower spirit 
observed : " Britannia rules the waves, but the mistake 
was she didn't rule them straight." A very distinguished 
soldier who came to see me when I was Port Admiral at 
Portsmouth said that the Army, as compared with the 
Navy, was at a great disadvantage. In the Army, or 
even in the country, he said, anyone who had handled a 
rifle laid down the law as if he were a General ; but the 
Navy, he said, was " A huge mystery hedged in by sea- 

So far as the Navy is concerned, the tendency of these 
*' Thinking Establishments " on shore is to convert 
splendid Sea Officers into very indifferent Clerks. The 
Admiralty is filled with Sea Officers now who ought to 
be afloat ; and the splendid civilian element — incom- 
parable in its talent and in its efliiciency — is swamped. 
Before the war, when I was First Sea Lord, when I left 
the Admiralty at 8 p.m., prior to some approaching 
Grand Manoeuvres, I left it to my friend Flint, one of 
the Higher Division Clerks, to mobilize the fleet by a 
wireless message from the roof of the Admiralty ; and 
the deciding circumstances having arisen, he did it off 
his own bat at 2 a.m. A weaker vessel, knowing of the 
telephone at my bedside, might have rung me up ; but 
Flint didn't. Good old Flint ! Always one of the 
Clerks was on watch, all the year round, night and day ; 
and that obtained in the Admiralty long before any other 
Department adopted it. 

Now for such work as I have described you don't want 



sea art ; you want the Craven scholar, and I had him. 
A Sea Officer can never be an efficient clerk — 
his life unfits him. He can't be an orator ; he's always 
had to hold his tongue. He can't argue ; he's never 
been allowed. Only a few great spirits like Nelson are 
gifted with the splendid idiosyncrasy of insubordination ; 
but it's given to a few great souls. I assure you that long 
study has convinced me that Nelson was nothing if not 
insubordinate. This is hardly the place to describe his 
magnificent lapses from discipline, which ever led to 
Victory. It's only due on my part, who have had more 
experience than anyone living of the civilian clerks at 
the Admiralty, to vouch for the fact that Sir Evan 
Macgregor, the ablest Secretary of the Admiralty since 
Samuel Pepys, Sir Graham Greene, Sir Oswyn Murray, 
Sir Charles Walker and my friends V. W. Baddeley, C.B., 
and J. W. S. Anderson, C.B., W. G. Perrin, J. F. 
Phillips, and many others have done work which has 
never been exceeded as regards its incomparable efficiency. 
I can't recall a single lapse. 

The outcome of this expanded Naval War Staff beyond 
its real requirements, such as I have indicated, and which 
were provided for while I was First Sea Lord, was that a 
Chief of the Staff, in imitation of him at the War Office, 
was planked into the Admiralty and indirectly supplanted 
the First Sea Lord. I won't enlarge on this further. 
It's many years before another war can possibly take 
place, and it's now a waste of educated labour to discuss 
it further. All I would ask is for anyone to take up the 
last issue of the Navy List and see the endless pages of 



Naval Officers at the Admiralty or holding shore appoint- 
ments. There has never been anything approaching 
these numbers in all our Sea History ! It is deplorable ! 
The Naval War College, which I established at Ports- 
mouth, is absolutely a different affair. There it can be 
arranged that all the Officers go to sea daily and work as 
if with the fleet, with flotillas of Destroyers that are 
there available in quantities. These Destroyers would 
represent all the items of the fleet ; and the formations 
of war and the meetings of hostile fleets could be practised 
and so constitute the Naval War College a real gem in 
war efficiency. 


Aged 14. Midshipman. 
H.M.S. "Highflyer," China. 



" Friends, Romans, Countrymen, lend me your ears ! " 

We have arranged that in this book you (to whom I 
am dictating) are to insert a rechauffe of my fugitive 
writings and certain extracts from the three bulky 
volumes of my letters to Lord Esher, which he has so 
very kindly sent me. 

All, then, that I have to say in this chapter will be a 
summing up of all that is in my opinion worth saying, 
and you are going to be responsible for the rest. My 
judgment is that the British Public will be sick of it all 
long before you come to the end of your part. One can 
have too much jam. Nor do you seem inclined to put in 
all the ** bites." For instance, it was told King Edward, 
who warned me of what was being said, that my moral 
character was shocking. No woman will ever appear 
against me at the Day of Judgment. One dear friend of 
mine attributed all his life's disasters to kissing the wrong 
girl. I never even did that. However, there is no credit 
in my morality and early piety. For I ever had to work 
from 12 years old for my daily bread, and work hard, so 

. 113 I 


the Devil never had a " look in." I love Dr. Watts, he 
is so practical. 

" And Satan finds some mischief still. 
For idle hands to do." 

Bishop Jeremy Taylor, who wrote that Classic, " Holy 
Living and Dying," who had a nagging wife who made him 
flee from home and youthful lusts, said *' That no idle 
rich healthy man could possibly go to Heaven." No 
doubt it is difficult for such a one. You will remember 
the Saviour told us that the Camel getting through the 
eye of a needle is more likely. Usually, earthly judgments 
on heavenly subjects are wrong. Observe Mary 
Magdalene, and the most beautiful Collect for her 
Saint's Day which was in our First Prayer Book of 
1540. This was later expunged by the sacerdotal, 
pharisaic, self-righteous mandarins of that period. 
The judgments of this world are worse than the 
judgments of God. When David was offered three 
forms of punishment — Famine or the Sword or Pestilence 
— he chose the pestilence, saying, " Let us now fall into 
the hands of the Lord ; for his mercies are great ; and 
let me not fall into the hand of man." At the moment 
of making this note of which I am speaking I am looking 
at two very beautiful old engravings I rescued from the 
room here allotted to the Presbyterian Minister ! One 
of them is the *' Woman Taken in Adulterv " and the 
other is " Potiphar's Wife " ! My host tells me it was 
a pure accident that these pictures came to be in the 
Minister's room ; but such events happen to Saints. 



Wasn^t there " The Scarlet Letter "—that wonderful 
book by Hawthorne ? 

I observe in passing how wonderfully well these 
Presbyterians do preach. Our hosts have a beautiful 
Chapel in the house, and they have got a delightful 
custom of selecting one from the Divines of Scotland to 
spend the week-end here. Their sermons so exemplify 
what I keep on impressing on you — that the printed word 
is a lifeless corpse. Can you compare the man who 
reads a sermon to the man who listens to one saturated 
with holiness and enthusiasm speaking out of the abun- 
dance of the heart ? No doubt there is tautology, but 
there's conviction. Two qualities rule the world — 
emotion and earnestness. I have said elsewhere, with 
them you can move far more than mountains ; you can 
move multitudes. It's the personality of the soul of 
man that has this immortal influence. Printed and 
written stuff is but an inanimate picture — a very fine 
picture sometimes, no doubt, but you get no aroma out 
of a picture. Fancy seeing the Queen of Sheba herself, 
instead of only reading of her in Solomon's print ! And 
those Almug trees — " And there came no such Almug 
trees, nor were seen until this day." 

To a friend I was once adoring St. Peter (I love his 
impetuosity) — I am illustrating how earthly judgments 
are so inferior to heavenly wisdom. St. John, who was 
a very much younger man, out-ran Peter. Up comes 
Peter, and dashes at once into the Sepulchre. Those 
men in war who get there and then don't do anything — 
Cui bono ? A fleet magnificent, five times bigger 

115 I 2 


than the enemy, and takes no risks ! A man I heard of — 
his wife, separated from him, died at Florence. He was 
on the Stock Exchange. They telegraphed, " Shall 
we cremate, embalm, or bury ? " " Do all three," he 
replied, ** take no risks ! " Some of our great warriors 
want the bird so arranged as to be able to put the salt 
on its tail. But I was speaking of my praising St. Peter. 
What did my friend retort (the judgment of this world, 
mind you !) ? *' Peter, Sir ! he would be turned out of 
every Club in London ! " So he would ! Thank God, 
we have a God, so that when our turn comes we shall be 
forgiven nmch because we loved much. 

From this Christian homily I return to what I rather 
vainly hope is my concluding interview. 

Before beginning — one of my critics writes to The 
Times saying I am not modest— I never said I was. 
However, next day. Sir Alfred Yarrow mentions perhaps 
the most momentous thing I ever did — that is the 
introduction of the Destroyer ; and the day following 
Sir Marcus Samuel writes that I am the God-father of 
Oil — and Oil is going to be the fuel of the world. Sir 
George Beilby is going to turn coal into Oil. He has 
done it. Thank God ! we are going to have a smokeless 
England in consequence, and no more fortified coaling 
stations and peripatetic coal mines, or what coal mines 
were. And then, I was going to give some more instances, 
but that's enough " to point the moral and adorn the tale,'* 



" Seekest Thou Great Things for Thyself ? Seek 
THEM NOT ! " (The Prophet Jeremiah.) 

You have given me a list of subjects which you think 
require elucidation in regard to my past years — a resume 
especially of the incidents which claim peculiar notice 
between 1902 and 1910 ; and you ask me to add thereto 
such episodes from the past as will enlighten the reader 
as to how it came about that those big events between 
1902 and 19 10 were put in motion. 

It's a big order, in a life of some sixty years on actual 
service — with but three weeks only unemployed, from the 
time of entry into the Navy to the time of Admiral of 
the Fleet. 

I begin by being heartfelt in my thankfulness to a benign 
Providence for being capable yesterday, September 13th, 
1919, of enjoying suet pudding and treacle with a pleasure 
equal to that which I quite well remember, of having 
suet pudding and treacle on July 4th, 1854, when I went 
on board H.M.S. "Victory," loi guns, the flagship at 
Trafalgar of Admiral Lord Viscount Nelson. Yes ! 
my thankfulness, I hope, is equal to but hardly as 
wonderful as that of the almost toothless old woman who, 
being commiserated with, replied : '* Yes, I only 'as 
two left ; but thank God they meet I " So I say, to 
express the same thankfulness with all my heart for the 
years that remain to me, though I have all my teeth — or 
nearly all — notwithstanding that I have not had even one 
single *' thank you " for anything that I have done since 
King Edward died. Nevertheless, I thank that same God 



as the old woman thanked, Who don't let a sparrow fall 
without a purpose and without knowledge. 

I have no doubt the slight has done me a lot of good ! 

I thought at the age of nineteen, when I was Acting 
Captain of H.M.S. " Coromandel," that I never could 
again be so great. Please look at my picture then. It's a 
very excellent one — rather pulled down at the corners of 
the mouth even then. (The child is father to the man.) 
And though now nearly as old as Dandolo I don't feel 
any greater than at 19. Dandolo after an escapade at 
the Dardanelles similar to mine, became conqueror of 
Byzantium at 80 years of age. And Justinian's two 
Generals, Belisarius and Narses, were over 70. Dolts 
don't realise that the brain improves while the body 
decays — provided of course that the original brain is not 
that of a congenital idiot, or of an effete poltroon who 
never will run risks. 

'* Risks and strife " are the bread of Life to a growing 

I beg the reader of this dictation to believe that, what- 
ever he may hear to the contrary (and he probably will), 
though swaggering as I did just now at suet-puddening 
at 79 as efficiently as at nineteen, yet I do daily realise 
what that ancient monk wrote in the year 800, when he 
studied the words of Job — that " Man that is born of a 
woman hath but a short time " compared to eternity, 
and death may be always near the door ; and no words 
are more beautiful in connection therewith than when a 
parting friend at the moment of departure makes us say : 
'* Teach us who survive in this and other like daily 



spectacles of mortality to see how frail and uncertain our 
own condition is." 

First of all in this Recapitulation comes back to me a 
prophecy I ventured at that age of 19 I have just men- 
tioned — that the next great war that we should have at 
sea would be a war of young men. And how beautifully 
this is illustrated by the letter received only a few days 
ago from that boy in Russia (see Chapter IV) where two 
battleships were sent to the bottom and the British 
sailors in command were only Lieutenants. And in 
passing one cannot help paying a tribute to the Subal- 
terns on shore. General Sir Henry Rawlinson said 
lately : *' Those who really won the war were the young 
Company Leaders and the Subalterns," and pathetic was 
the usual Gazette notice of those killed : 

** Second Lieutenants unless otherwise mentioned ^ 
There was little " otherwise ! " So has it been in the 
Navy, at Zeebrugge and elsewhere. 

There is, however, a very splendid exception — when 
all hands, old and young, went to the bottom ; and that 
is in the magnificent Merchant Navy of the British Nation. 
Seven million tons sank under these men, and the record 
of so many I've seen who were saved was : " Three times 
torpedoed." And remember ! for them no Peerage or 
Westminster Abbey. They didn't even get paid for the 
clothes they lost, and their pay stopped the day the ship 
was sunk. Except in the rare cases where the shipowner 
was the soul of generosity, like my friend Mr. Petersen, 
who paid his men six months or a year to do nothing after 
such a catastrophe. But we go with Mr. Havelock 



Wilson : " We hope to change all that." For who is 
going to deny, when we all stand up for them, that the 
Merchant Navy shall be incorporated in the Navy of the 
Nation and with all the rights and money and rank and 
uniform and widows' pensions and pensions in old age ? 
All this has to come ; and I am Mr. Havelock Wilson's 
colleague in that matter, as he was mine in that wonderful 
feeding and clothing of our thousands of British Merchant 
sailor prisoners, who didn't, for some damned red tape 
reason, come within the scope of the millions of money 
in that enormous Prince of Wales's Fund, and the Red 

Somebody will have to be a martyr, perhaps it's me. 
And I expect I am going to be burnt at the stake for 
saying these things ; but in those immortal words of the 
past *' I shall light the candle ! " Isn't it just too lovely 
— when Bishop Latimer, as the flames shot up around 
him at the stake in Oxford in a.d. 1555, cried to his 
brother Bishop, equally burning : 

*' Play the man, Master Ridley ! We shall this day 
light such a candle by God's Grace in England as I 
trust shall never be put out." 

So may it be in our being burnt for the sake of the 
great Merchant Navy that saved our country ! 

As regards the years 1902 to 19 10, the first conceptions 
of these great changes stole upon me when I perceived 
in that great Fleet in the Mediterranean how vague were 



the views as to fighting essentials. For instance, in one 
of the lectures to the Mediterranean Fleet Officers I set 
forth a case of so dealing with a hostile fleet that we should 
ourselves first of all deliberately and in cold blood 
sacrifice several of our fastest cruisers. Why ? 

To delay the flying enemy by the wounding of his 
hindermost ships. Possibly a ruthless German Admiral 
might leave a " Bliicher " to her fate ; but not so our then 
probable and chivalrous foe ! The most shocking des- 
cription I have ever read of the horrors of war was that 
detailed by one of the crew of the " Blucher " as he 
describes Beatty's salvoes gradually approaching the 
" Blucher" and falling near in the water, and then the 
hell when these salvoes arrived, immediately extinguishing 
the electric light installation, till all below between decks 
was pitchy darkness only lighted up by the bursting shells 
as they penetrated and massacred the crew literally by 
hundreds, who, huddled up together in the " Blucher 's " 
last moments, were hoping behind the thickest armour 
to escape destruction. 

I saw that the plan of sacrificing vessels in the pursuit 
of an enemy seemed a new feature to my hearers ; and 
yet it was as old as the hills. And another '' eye-opener " 
I had — in the inability to realise so obvious a fact as, 
alas ! was somewhat the case in the North Sea recently — 
that you need not be afraid of a mine field ; for where 
the enemy goes you can go, if you keep in his wake, 
that is. In close regard with this matter, I am an 
apostle of '* End-on Fire," for to my mind broadside fire 
is peculiarly stupid. To be obliged to delay your pursuit 



by turning even one atom from your straight course on 
to a flying enemy is to me being the acme of an ass. And, 
strange to say, in connection with this I, only yesterday, 
September 13th, 1919, got a letter from Admiral Weymouth 
— a most excellent letter, delightfully elaborating with 
exceptional acuteness this very idea, which came along 
so long ago as 1900, when the first thought of the 
" Dreadnought " came into my brain, when I was 
discussing with my excellent friend, Mr. Gard, Chief 
Constructor of Malta Dockyard, the vision of the 
" Dreadnought." 

I greatly enjoyed years ago overhearing a lady describe 
to another lady, when crossing over to Ryde, a passing 
Ryde passenger steamer (just built and differing very 
greatly from the one we were on board of) as a Battleship. 
And she wasn't far out as to what a battleship should be. 
The enterprise of the Ryde Steam Packet Company had 
just produced that vessel, which went just as fast astern 
as she did ahead. In fact, she had no stern. There was 
a bow at each end and a rudder at each end and screws 
at each end ; so they never had any bother to turn round. 
Now when you go to Boulogne or Folkestone, I don't 
know how much time you don't waste fooling around to 
go in stern first, so as to be able to come out the right way ; 
and having escaped sea-sickness so far, I myself have 
found that the last straw. Let us hope every ship 
now built after this Chapter will be a *' Double- 
Ender." But in this world you are a lunatic if you go 
too fast. 

Take now the submarines. They began by diving 



head first to get below water ; and in the beginning some 
stuck their noses in the mud and never came up again, 
and in the shallow waters of the North Sea this limited 
the dimension of the submarine. But now there's no 
more diving. A lunatic hit by accident on the idea of 
sinking the ship horizontally ; so there is no more bother 
about the metricentric problems, and all the vagaries of 
Stabilities. No limit to size ! 

This sort of consideration brought into one's mind 
that a great " Education " was wanted ; and that we 
wanted " Machinery Education," both with officers and 
men ; and also that the education should be the education 
of common sense. My full idea of Osborne was, alas ! 
emasculated by the schoolmasters of the Nation ; but it 
is yet going to spread. As sure as I am now dictating to 
you, the practical way of teaching is " Explanation^ 
followed by Execution.^' Have a lecture on Optics in the 
morning : make a telescope in the afternoon. Tell the 
boys in the morning about the mariner's compass and the 
use of the chart ; and in the afternoon go out and navigate 
a Ship. 

Similarly, with the selection of boys for the Navy, I 
didn't want any examination whatsoever, except the boy 
and his parents being *' vetted," and then an interview 
with the boy to examine his personality (his soul, in fact) ; 
and not to have an article in the Navy stuffed by patent 
cramming schoolmasters like a Strasburg goose. A 
goose's liver is not the desideratum in the candidate. 
The desideratum was : could we put into him the four 
attributes of Nelson : — 



I. Self reliance. 

(If you don't believe in yourself, nobody else 
II. Fearlessness of Responsibility. 

(If you shiver on the brink you'll catch cold, and 
possibly not take the plunge.) 

III. Fertility of Resource. 

(If the traces break, don't give it up, get some 

IV. Power of initiative. 

(Disobey orders.) 


Somewhere about January 15th, 191 5, I submitted my 
resignation as First Sea Lord to Mr. Churchill because 
of the supineness manifested by the High Authorities 
as regards Aircraft ; and I then prophesied the raids over 
London in particular and all over England, that by and 
by caused several millions sterling of damage and an 
infinite fright. 

I refer to my resignation on the aircraft question 
with some fear and trembling of denials ; however, I 
have a copy of my letter, so it's all right. I withdrew 
my resignation at the request of Authority, because 
Authority said that the War Office and not the Admiralty 
were responsible and would be held responsible. The 
aircraft belonged to the War Office ; why on earth 
couldn't I mind my own business ? I didn't want the 
Admiralty building and our wireless on the roof of it 
to be bombed ; so it was my business (the War Office was 



as safe as a church, the Germans would never bomb that 
estabHshment !). 

Recently I fortuned to meet Mr. Holt Thomas, and he 
brought to my recollection what was quite a famous 
meeting at the Admiralty. Soon after I became First 
Sea Lord on October 31st, 1914, I had called together 
at the Admiralty a Great Company of all interested in 
the air ; for at that moment I had fully satisfied myself 
that small airships with a speed of fifty miles an hour 
would be of inestimable value against submarines and 
also for scouting purposes near the coast. So they proved. 

Mr. Holt Thomas was a valued witness before the 
Royal Commission on Oil and Oil Engines, of which I 
was Chairman (a sad business for me financially^ — I only 
possessed a few hundred pounds and I put it into Oil — 
I had to sell them out, of course, on becoming Chairman 
of the Oil Commission, and what I put those few hundreds 
into caused a disappearance of most of those hundreds, 
and when I emerged from the Royal Commission the oil 
shares had more than quintupled in value and gone up 
to twenty times what they were when I first put in). 

Through Mr. Holt Thomas we obtained the very 
important evidence of the French inventor of the Gnome 
engine — ^that wonderful engine that really made aeroplanes 
what they now are. His evidence was of peculiar value ; 
and so also was that of Mr. Holt Thomas's experience ; 
and the result of the Admiralty meeting on aircraft was 
that we obtained from Mr. Holt Thomas an airship in 
a few weeks, when the experience hitherto had been that 
it took years ; and a great number of this type of aircraft 



were used with immense advantage in the war. I 
remember so well that the very least time that could be 
promised with every effort and unstinted money, was 
three months (but Mr. Holt Thomas gave a shorter time). 
In three weeks an airship was flying over the Admiralty 
at 50 miles an hour (" there's nothing you can't have if 
you want it enough "), and now we've reached the 
Epoch — prodigious in its advent^ — when positively the 
Air commands and dominates both Land and Sea ; 
and we shall witness quite shortly a combination in one 
Structure of the Aeroplane, the Airship, the parachute, 
the common balloon, and an Aerial Torpedo, which will 
both astound people by its simplicity and by its extra- 
ordinary possibilities, both in War and Commerce (the 
torpedo will become cargo in Commerce). The 
aeroplane has now to keep moving to live — but why 
should it ? The aerial gyroscopic locomotive torpedo 
suspended by a parachute has a tremendous significance. 
And let no one think like the ostrich that buiying one's 
head in the sand will make Invention desist. At the first 
Hague Peace Conference in 1899, when I was one of the 
British Delegates, huge nonsense was talked about the 
amenities of war. War has no amenities, although Mr. 
Norman Angell attacked me in print for saying so. 
It's like two Innocents playing singlestick ; they agree, 
when they begin, not to hit hard, but it don't last long ! 
Like fighting using only one fist against the other man 
with two ; the other fist damn soon comes out ! The 
Ancient who formulated that '* All's fair in love and war " 
enunciated a great natural principle 



War is the essence of violence. '' 
Moderation in War is imbecility." 

The following Reports and letter will illustrate this 
history of my efforts in this direction : — 

Lord Fisher returned to the Admiralty on October 30th, 1914. _ 
38 S.S. airships were at once ordered— single engine type. Six 
improved type. 

Before Lord Fisher left the Admiralty, a design of a double- 
engine type was got out, and subsequently another 32 airships were 

Circular Letter issued by Lord Fisher in 19 14 when 
First Sea Lord : — 

Lord Fisher desires to express to all concerned his 
high appreciation of the service rendered by those who 
carried out the recent daring raid on Lake Constance. 

He considers that the flight mentioned, made over 
250 miles of enemy country of the worst description, is 
a fine feat of endurance, courage, and skill, and reflects 
great credit on all who took part in the raid, and through 
them on the Air Service to which they belong. 

The following precis of correspondence is inserted because 
contributory to Lord Fisher's resignation. He had pre- 
viously written to Mr. Churchill, resigning on the ground 
of the disregard of his warnings respecting the Aircraft 

menace : — 

An Official Secret German Dispatch, obtained from a 
German Source, dated December 26th, 1914 :— 

The General Staff of the German Army are sending 
aircraft to attack French fortified places. Full use to be 



made of favourable weather conditions for attack of 
Naval Zeppelins against the East Coast of England with 
the exception of London. The attack on London will 
follow later combined with the German Army Airships. 

Precis of History of Rigid Airships of Zeppelin 
Type .— 

Lord Fisher, when First Sea Lord, in December, 1908, 
instructed Admiral Bacon to press for the construction of 
rigid airships for naval purposes at the meetings of a 
Sub-Committee of the Committee of Imperial Defence, 
which held its first meeting in December, 1908, after 
many meetings at which Admiral Bacon presented the 
naval point of view with much lucidity. The Committee 
recommended on January 28th, 1909, the following : — 

(a) The Committee are of opinion that the dangers to 
which we might be exposed by developments in aerial 
navigation cannot be definitely ascertained until we 
ourselves possess airships. 

(b) There are good grounds for assuming that airships 
will prove of great value to the Navy for scouting and possibly 
for destructive purposes ^ From a military point of view 
they are also important. 

{c) A sum of £35,000 should be included in the Naval 
Estimates for the purpose of building an airship of a 
rigid type. The sum alluded to should include the cost 
of all preliminary and incidental expenses. 

(d) A sum of £10,000 should be included in Army 

^ This was written in December, 1908, and our Fleet and ships were 
always dogged in the war by them. 


Aged 19. Lieutenant. 
In temporary command of " Coromandel " in China. 


Estimates tor continuing experiments with navigable 
balloons of a non-rigid type, and for the purchase of 
complete non-rigid airships and their component parts. 

January zSth, 1909. 

Approved by Committee of Imperial Defence, Feb- 
ruary 25th, 1909. 

And nothing more was done till I came back to Admiralty 
on October 30th, 1914 ! 

Letter from Admiral Sir S. Eardley Wilmot, formerly 
Superintendent of Ordnance Stores, Admiralty : — 

The Old Malt House, 

August i-^th, 1916. 

Dear Lord Fisher, 

Having given us splendid craft to fight on and under 
the sea, I wish you would take up the provision of an air 
fleet. There is going to be a great development of air 
navigation in the future and all nations will be at it. 
With our resources and wealth we can take and keep the 
lead if we like. 

As a modest programme to start with we might aim at 
100 air battleships and 400 air cruisers : all on the 

lighter than air " principle. 

I met a young fellow who had been in the Jutland 
action and asked him how the 15-inch guns did. 
" Splendidly," he said — " They did nearly all the real 
execution." I hear the Germans have got 17-inch guns 
which is what I anticipated, but they won't get ahead of 
us in that time tho' we can't yet snuff out their Zepps, 
thanks to you know who. 

Yours sincerely, 

(Signed) S. Eardley Wilmot. 

Note. — More than a year before 1 got this letter I had 

129 K 



got a 20-inch gun ready to be built for a new type ot 
Battle Cruiser ! 

The Submarine Mine 

As quite a young Lieutenant, with extraordinary 
impudence I told the then First Sea Lord of the Admiralty 
that the Hertz German Submarine Mine, which I had 
seen a few days before in Kiel Harbour, would so far 
revolutionise sea warfare as possibly to prevent one fleet 
pursuing another, by the Fleet that was flying dropping 
submarine mines in its wake ; and certainly that sudden 
sea operations of the old Nelsonic type would seriously 
be interfered with. He very good humouredly sent me 
away as a young desperado, as he remembered that I had 
been a lunatic in prophesying the doom of masts and 
sails, which were still then magnificently supreme, and 
the despised engineer yet hiding his diminished head had 
to keep the smell of oily oakum away from the noses of 
the Lords of the ship. 

That same Hertz mine in all its essentials lemains still 
" The King of Mines," and if only in those years imme- 
diately preceding the war we had manufactured none 
else, instead of trying to improve on it, we should have 
bagged no end of big game. But as it was, our mines 
were squibs ; the enemy's ship always steamed away and 
got into harbour, while ours always went down plump. 

The Policy of the Submarine Mine favoured us, but 
our authorities couldn't see it. I printed in three kinds 
of type : 

(i) Huge capitals ; (2) Italics ; (3) big Roman block 



letters the following words, submitted to the authorities 

very early in the war — 

" Sow the North Sea with Mines on such a huge scale 
that Naval Operations in it become utterly impossible." 

So you nip into the Baltic with the British Fleet. 

That British Mining Policy blocked the North Sea 
entrance to the Kiel Canal— that British Mining Policy 
dished the neutrals. When the neutrals got blown up 
you swore it was a German mine — it was the Germans 
who began laying mines ; and a mine, when it blows you 
up, don't hand you a ticket like a passport, saying what 
nationality it is. In fact, our mines were so damned bad 
they couldn't help believing it was a German mine. 
But I might add I think they would have sunk any Mer- 
chant ship, squibs though they were ; and I may add in 
a parenthesis this British policy of submarine mines for 
the North Sea would have played hell with the German 
submarines, not so much blowing them up but entangling 
their screws. 

Well, at the last — longo intervallo — towards the close of 
the war, being the fifteenth " Too Late " of Mr. Lloyd 
George's ever memorable and absolutely true speech, 
the British Foreign Office did allow this policy, and the 
United States sent over mines in thousands upon thou- 
sands, and we're still trying to pick 'em up, in such vast 
numbers were they laid down ! 

We really are a very peculiar people. 
Lions led by Asses I 

I bought a number of magnificent and fast vessels for 

131 K 2 


laying down these mines in masses — no sooner had 
I left the Admiralty in May, 191 5, they were so 
choice that they were diverted and perverted to other 

But perhaps the most sickening of all the events of the 
war was the neglect of the Humber as the jumping-off 
place for our great fast Battle Cruiser force, with all its 
attendant vessels — light Cruisers, Destroyers, and Sub- 
marines, and mine-layers, and mine-sweepers — for offen- 
sive action at any desired moment, and as a mighty and 
absolute deterrent to the humiliating bombardment of 
our coasts by that same fast German Battle Cruiser force. 
The Humber is the nearest spot to Heligoland ; and at 
enormous cost and greatly redounding to the credit of the 
present Hydrographer of the Navy, Admiral Learmonth 
(then Director of Fixed Defences), the Humber was made 
submarine-proof, and batteries were placed in the sea 
protecting the obstructions, and moorings laid down 
behind triple lines of defence against all possibility of 
hostile successful attack. 

However, I had to leave the Admiralty before it was 
completed and the ships sent there ; and then the mot 
d'ordre was Passivity ; and when the Germans bom- 
barded Scarborough and Yarmouth and so on, we said to 
them a la Chinois, making great grimaces and beating 
tom-toms ; " If you come again, look out ! " But the 
Germans weren't Chinese, and they came ; and the 
soothing words spoken to the Mayors of the bombarded 
East Coast towns were what Mark Twain specified as 
being " spoke ironical." 



I conclude this Chapter with the following words, 
printed in the early autumn of 19 14 : — 

'* By the half- measures we have adopted hitherto in 
regard to Open- Sea Mines we are enjoying neither the 
one advantage nor the other." 

That is to say, when the Germans at the very first 
outbreak of war departed from the rules of the Hague 
Conference against the type of mine they used, we had 
two courses open to us : there was the moral advantage of 
refusing to follow the bad lead, or we could seek a physical 
advantage by forcing the enemies' crime to its utmost 
consequences. We were effete. We were pusillanimous, 
and we were like Jelly-fish. 

And we " Waited and See'd. 





We Started out on the compilation of this book on the 
understanding that it was not to be an Autobiography, 
nor a Diary, nor Meditations (a la Marcus AureUus), but 
simply " Memories." And now you drive me to give 
you a Synopsis of my life (which is an artful periphrasis), 
and request me to account for my past life being one 
continuous series of fightings — Love and Hate alternating 
and Strife the thread running through this mortal coil 
of mine. (When a coil of rope is made in a Government 
Dockyard a coloured worsted thread is introduced ; it 
runs through the centre of the rope : if the rope breaks 
and sends a man to " Kingdom Come," you know the 
Dockyard that made it and you ask questions ; if it's 
purloined the Detective bowls out the purloiner.) So 
far my rope of life has not broken and the thread is there 
— Strife. 

Greatly daring, and " storms of obloquy " having been 
my portion, I produce now an apologia pro vita mea^ 
though it may not pulverise as that great Cardinal pul- 
verised with his famous Apologia (" He looked like 
Heaven and he fought like Hell "). 



Here I would insert a note which I discovered this 
very afternoon sent me by an unknown friend when 
Admiral von Spee and all his host went to the bottom. 
Before that event there had been a series of disasters at 
sea, and a grave uneasy feeling about our Navy was 
spreading over the land. The three great Cruisers — 
"Hogue," " Cressy " and "Aboukir" — had been sunk 
near the German coast. What were they doing there ? Did 
they think they were Nelson blockading Toulon ? The 
" Goeben "' and " Breslau " had escaped from our magnifi- 
cent Battle Cruisers, then in the Mediterranean, which 
had actually boxed them up in the Harbour of Messina ; 
and they had gone unharmed to Constantinople, and 
like highwaymen had held a pistol at the head of the 
Sultan with the threat of bombarding Constantinople 
and his Palace and thus converted Turkey, our ancient 
ally, into the most formidable foe we had. For is not 
England the greatest Mahomedan Power in the world ? 
The escape of the " Goeben " and " Breslau '* was an irre- 
parable disaster almost equalled by our effete handling 
of Bulgaria, the key State of the Balkans ; and we didn't 
give her what she asked. When we offered it and more 
next year, she told us to go to hell. Then there was the 
" Pegasus," that could neither fight nor run away, mas- 
sacred in cold blood at Zanzibar by a German Cruiser 
as superior to her as our Battle Cruisers were to von Spee. 
And last of all, as a climax, that sent the hearts of the 
British people into their boots, poor Cradock and his 
brave ships were sunk by Admiral von Spee. I became 
First Sea Lord within 24 hours of that event, and without 



delay the Dreadnought Battle Cruisers, *' Inflexible " 
and "Invincible," went 7,000 miles without a hitch in 
their water tube boilers or their turbine machinery, and 
arrived at the Falkland Islands almost simultaneously 
with Admiral von Spee and his eleven ships. That 
night von Spee, like another Casabianca with his son on 
board, had gone to the bottom and all his ships save one 
— and that one also soon after — were sunk. I have to 
reiterate about von Spee, as to this day the veil is upon 
the faces of our people, and they do not realise the Salva- 
tion that came to them. 

1. We should have had no munitions — our nitrate 
came from Chili. 

2. We should have lost the Pacific — the Falkland 
Islands would have been another Heligoland and a 
submarine base. 

3. Von Spee had German reservists, picked up on the 
Pacific Coast, on board, to man the fortifications to be 
erected on the Falkland Islands. 

4. He would have proceeded to the Cape of Good 
Hope and massacred our Squadron there, as he had 
massacred Cradock and his Squadron. 

5. General Botha and his vast fleet of transports 
proceeding to the conquest of German South-West 
Africa would have been destroyed. 

6. Africa under Hertzog would have become German. 

7. Von Spee, distributing his Squadron on every 
Ocean, would have exterminated British Trade. 

That's not a bad resume ! 

Now I give the note, for it really is first-rate. Who 



wrote it I don't know, and I don't know the paper that 
it came from : — 

** It is amusing to read the eulogies now showered on 
Lord Fisher. He is the same man with the same methods, 
the same ideas, and the same theories and practice which 
he had in 1905 when he was generally abused as an un- 
scrupulous rascal for whom the gallows were too good. 
Lord Fisher's silence under storms of obloquy while he 
was building up Sea Power was a striking evidence of 
his title to fame." 

The writer of the paragraph quotes the above words 
from some other paper ; then he goes on with the fol- 
lowing remark : — 

" We cordially endorse these observations. At the 
same time, not all of those who raised the * storms of 
obloquy ' in 1905 and for some years subsequently are 
now indulging in eulogy. Many of them just maintain 
a more or less discreet silence, varied by an occasional 
insinuation either in public or in private that everything 
is not quite as it should be at the Admiralty, or that 
Lord Fisher is too old for his job, etc., etc., etc. As we 
have often remarked, many of the vituperators of Lord 
Fisher hated him for this one simple reason, that he had 
weighed them up and found them wanting. They had 
imposed on the public, but they couldn't impose on him. 
Some of these vituperators are now discreetly silent, but 
we know for a fact that their sentiments towards the First 
Sea Lord are not in the slightest degree changed." 

To proceed with this synopsis : — 

I entered the Nav}^ July 12th, 1854, on board Her 
Majesty's Ship " Victory," after being medically examined 
by the Doctor on board of her, and writing out from 
dictation The Lord's Prayer ; and I rather think I did a 



Rule of Three sum. Before that time, for seven years I 
had a hard life. My paternal grandfather — a splendid 
old parson of the fox-hunting type — with whom I was 
to live, had died just before I reached England ; and no 
one else but my maternal grandfather was in a position 
to give me a home. He was a simple-minded man and 
had been fleeced out of a fortune by a foreign scoundrel 
— I remember him well, as also I remember the 
Chartist Riots of 1848 when I saw a policeman even 
to my little mind behaving, as I thought, brutally to 
passing individuals. I remember seeing a tottering old 
man having his two sticks taken away from him and 
broken across their knees by the police. On the other 
hand, I have to bear witness to a little phalanx of 40 
splendid police (who then wore tall hats and tail coats) 
charging a multitude of what seemed to me to be thousands 
and sending them flying for their lives. They only had 
their truncheons— but they knew how to use them cer- 
tainly. They seized the band and smashed the instru- 
ments and tore up their flags. 

I share Lord Rosebery's delightful distaste ; and wild 
horses won't make me say more about those early years. 
These are Lord Rosebery's delicious words : — 

" There is one initial part of a biography which is 
skipped by every judicious reader ; that in which the 
pedigree of the hero is set forth, often with warm fancy 
and sometimes at intolerable length." 

How can it possibly interest anyone to know that my 
simple-minded maternal grandfather was driven through 
the artifices of a rogue to take in lodgers, who of their 



charity gave me bread thickly spread with butter — ^butter 
was a thing I otherwise never saw — and my staple food 
was boiled rice with brown sugar — very brown ? 

Other vicissitudes of my early years — 'Until I became 
Gunnery Lieutenant of the first English Ironclad, the 
''Warrior," at an extraordinarily early age — may be 
told some day ; and all that your desired synopsis 
demands is a filling in of dates and a few details, till 
I became the Captain of the '' Inflexible" — the " Dread- 
nought " of her day. I was promoted from Commander 
to Captain largely through a Lord of the Admiralty by 
chance hearing me hold forth in a Lecture to a bevy of 

H.M.S. "Vigilant," Portsmouth. 
October yd, 1873, 

Mr. Goschen and Milne left at 10 a.m. I stayed and went on 
board " Vernon," Torpedo School Ship, at 11. Had a most interesting 
lecture from Commander Fisher, a promising young ofhcer, and 
witnessed several experiments. The result of my observations 
was that in my opinion the Torpedo has a great future before it 
and that mechanical training will in the near future he essential for 
officers. Made a note to speak to Goschen about young Fisher. 

That was in 1873. More than thirty years after, 
" Young Fisher " was instrumental in making this 
principle the basis of the new system of education of all 
naval cadets at Osborne. 

I remember so well taking a " rise " out of my exalted 
company of Admirals and others. The voltaic element, 
which all lecturers then produced with gusto as the 
elementary galvanic cell, was known as the *' Daniell 
Cell." A bit of zinc, and a bit of copper stuck in sawdust 
saturated with diluted sulphuric acid, and there you were ! 



A bit of wire from the zinc to one side of a galvanometer 
and a bit of wire from the copper to the other side and 
round went the needle as if pursued by the devil. 

There were endless varieties of this " Daniell Cell," 
which it was always considered right and proper to 
describe. " Now," I said, " Sirs, I will give you without 
any doubt whatsoever the original Daniell Cell " — at that 
moment disclosing to their rapt and enquiring gaze a 
huge drawing (occupying the whole side of the lecture 
room and previously shrouded by a table cloth) — the 
Lions with their mouths firmly shut and Daniel appar- 
ently biting his nails waiting for daylight ! Anyhow, 
that's how Rubens represents him. 

I very nearly got into trouble over that " Sell." Ad- 
mirals don't like being " sold." 

I should have mentioned that antecedent to this I had 
been Commander of the China Flagship. I wished very 
much for the Mediterranean Flagship ; but my life-long 
and good friend Lord Walter Kerr was justly preferred 
before me. The Pacific Flagship was also vacant ; and 
I think the Admiral wanted me there, but I had a wonder- 
ful good friend at the Admiralty, Sir Beauchamp Seymour, 
afterwards Lord Alcester, who was determined I should 
go to China. So to China I went ; and, as it happened, 
it turned out trumps, for the Admiral got softening of 
the brain, and I was told that when he got home and 
attended at the Admiralty I was the only thing in his 
mind ; the only thing he could say was " Fisher ! " And 
this luckily helped me in my promotion to Post Captain. 

After starting the " Vernon " as Torpedo School of 



the Navy and partaking in a mission to Fiume to arrange 
for -ns purchase of the Whitehead Torpedo, I was sent 
at an hour's notice overland to Malta, where on entering 
the harbour I noticed an old tramp picking up her 
anchor, and on enquiry found she was going to Con- 
stantinople, where the ship I was to command was with 
the Fleet under Sir Geoffrey Hornby. I went alongside, 
got up a rope ladder that was hanging over the side and 
pulled up my luggage with a rope's end, when the Captain 
of the Tramp came up to me and said : " Hullo ! " I 
said " Hullo ! " He said " What is it you want ? " He 
didn't know who I was, and I was in plain clothes, just 
as I had travelled over the Continent, and I replied : 
" I'm going with you to Constantinople to join my 
ship " ; and he said '* There ain't room ; there's only one 
bunk, and when I ain't in it the mate is." I said " All 
right, I don't want a bunk." And he said " Well, we 
ain't got no cook." And I said " That don't matter 
either." That man and I till he died were like Jonathan 
and David. He was a magnificent specimen of those 
splendid men who command our merchant ships — I 
wort^jipped the ground he trod on. His mate was just 
as g-^od. They kept watch and watch, and it was a 
hard life. I said to him one day " Captain, I never see 
you take sights." " Well," he said, *' Why should I ? 
When I leaves one lamp-post I steers for the other " 
(meaning lighthouses) ; " and," he says, ** I trusts my 
iingineer. He gives me the revolutions what the engine 
has made, and I know exactly where I am. And," he 
says, " when you have been going twenty years on the 



same road and no other road, you gets to know exactly 
how to do it." *' Well," I said, " what do you do about 
your compass ? are you sure it's correct ? In the Navy, 
you know, we're constantly looking at the sun when it 
sets, and that's an easy way of seeing that the compass 
is right." " Well," he said, " what I does is this. I 
throws a cask overboard, and when it's as far off as ever 
I can see it, I turns the ship round on her axis. I takes 
the bearing of the cask at every point of the compass, I 
adds 'em all up, divides the total by the number of bear- 
ings, which gives me the average, and then I subtracts 
each point of the compass from it, and that's what the 
compass is wrong on each point. But," he says, " I 
seldom does it, because provided I make the lamp-post 
all right I think the compass is all right." 

I found Admiral Hornby's fleet at Ismid near Con- 
stantinople, and Admiral Hornby sent a vessel to meet 
me at Constantinople. He had heard from Malta that I 
was on board the tramp. That great man was the finest 
Admiral afloat since Nelson. At the Admiralty he was a 
failure. So would Nelson have been ! With both of 
them their Perfection was on the Sea, not at an office 
desk. Admiral Hornby I simply adored. I had known 
him many years ; and while my cabins on board my ship 
were being painted, he asked me to come and live with 
him aboard his Flagship, which I did, and I was next 
ship to him always when at sea. He was astounding. 
He would tell you what you were going to do wrong 
before you did it ; and you couldn't say you weren't 
going to do it because you had put your helm over and 



the ship had begun to move the wrong way. Many 
years afterwards, when he was the Port Admiral at 
Portsmouth, I was head of the Gunnery School at 
Portsmouth, and, some war scare arising, he was ordered 
to take command of the whole Fleet at home collected 
at Portland. He took me with him as a sort of Captain 
of the Fleet, and we went to Bantry Bay, where we had 
exercises of inestimable value. He couldn't bear a fool, 
so of course he had many enemies. There never lived 
a more noble character or a greater seaman. He was 

After commanding the " Pallas " in the Mediterranean 
under Sir Geoffrey Hornby, I was selected by Admiral 
Sir Cooper Key as his Flag Captain in North America 
in command of the " Bellerophon " ; and I again fol- 
lowed Sir Cooper Key as his Flag Captain in the " Her- 
cules " when he also was put in command of a large fleet 
on another war scare arising. It was in that year I began 
the agitation for the introduction of Lord Kelvin's 
compass into the Navy, and I continued that agitation 
with the utmost vehemence till the compass was adopted 
After that I was chosen by Admiral Sir Leopold McClin- 
tock, the great Arctic Explorer, to be his Flag Captain 
on the North American Station, in the " Northampton," 
then a brand new ship. He again was a splendid man 
and his kindness to me is unforgettable. He had gone 
through great hardships in the Arctic — once he hadn't 
washed for 179 days. He was like a rare old bit of 
mahogany ; and I was told by an admirer of his that 



when the thermometer was 70 degrees below zero he 
found the ship so stuffy that he slept outside on the ice 
in his sleeping bag. 

I was suddenly recalled to England and left him with 
very deep regret in the West Indies to become Captain 
of the " Inflexible." I had the most trying parting from 
that ship's company of the " Northampton " ; and not 
being able to stand the good-bye, I crept unseen into a 
shore boat and got on board the mail steamer before the 
crew found out that the Captain had left the ship. And 
the fine old Captain of the Mail Steamer — Robert 
Woolward by name — caught the microbe and steamed 
me round and round my late ship. He was a great 
character. Every Captain of a merchant ship I meet I 
seem to think better than the last (I hope I shan't forget 
later on to describe Commodore Haddock of the White 
Star Line, for if ever there was a Nelson of the Merchant 
Serv^ice he was). But I return to Woolward. He had 
been all his life in the same line of steamers, and he showed 
me some of his correspondence, which was lovely. He 
was invariably in the right and his Board of Directors 
were invariably in the wrong. I saw a lovely letter he 
had written that very day that I went on board, to his 
Board of Directors. He signed himself in the letter as 
follows : — • 

" Gentlemen, I am your obedient humble servant " 
(he was neither), *' Robert Woolward— Forty years in 
your employ and never did right yet." 

I must, while I have the chance, say a few words about 
my friend Haddock. It was a splendid Captain in the 


18S5. Aged 41. Post Captain. 
In command of Gunnery'School at Portsmouth. 


White Star steamer in which I crossed to America in 
1910, and I remarked this to my Cabin Steward, as a 
matter of conversation. ** Ah ! " he said, " you should 
see 'addick." Then he added " We knows him as 
'addick of the ' Oceanic' Yes," he said, *' and Mr. 
Ismay (the Head of the White Star Line) knows him too ! " 
The " Oceanic " was Mr. Ismay 's last feat in narrowness 
and length and consequent speed for crossing the Atlantic. 
I have heard that when he was dying he went to see her. 
This conversation never left my mind, although it was 
only the cabin steward that told me ; but he was an 
uncommon good steward. So when I came back to the 
Admiralty as First Sea Lord on October 31st, 1914, I 
at once got hold of Haddock, made him into a Commodore, 
and he commanded the finest fleet of dummy wooden 
*' Dreadnoughts " and Battle Cruisers the world had ever 
looked on, and they agitated the Atlantic, and the '* Queen 
Elizabeth " in wood got blown up by the Germans at 
the Dardanelles instead of the real one. The Germans 
left the other battleships alone chasing the "Elizabeth." 
If this should meet the eye of Haddock, I want to tell 
him that, had I remained, he would have been Sir Herbert 
Haddock, K.C.B., or I'd have died in the attempt. 

Now you have got perhaps not all you want, but 
sufficient for the Notes to follow here. 

The " Warrior " 

I was appointed Gunnery Lieutenant of the " Warrior " 
our First Ironclad in 1863, when I was a little over 22 

145 L 


years old. I had just won the Beaufort Testimonial 
(Senior Wrangler), and that, with a transcendental Cer- 
tificate from Commodore Oliver Jones, who was at that 
time the demon of the Navy, gave me a " leg up." 

The " Warrior " was then, like the " Inflexible " in 
1882 and the "Dreadnought" in 1905, the cynosure of 
all eyes. She had a very famous Captain, the son of 
that great seaman Lord Dundonald, and a still more 
famous Commander, Sir George Tryon, who afterwards 
went down in the " Victoria." She had a picked crew 
of officers and men, so I was wonderfully fortunate to be 
the Gunnery Lieutenant, and at so young an age I got 
on very well, except for sky-larking in the ward-room, 
for which I got into trouble. There was a dear old 
grey-headed Paymaster, and a mature Doctor, and a still 
more mature Chaplain, quite a dear old Saint. These, 
with other willing spirits, of a younger phase, I organised 
into a peripatetic band. The Parson used to play the 
coal scuttle, the Doctor the tongs and shovel, the dear 
old Paymaster used to do the cymbals with an old tin 
kettle. The other instruments we made ourselves out 
of brown paper, and we perambulated, doing our best. 
The Captain came out of his cabin door and asked the 
sentry what that noise was } We were all struck dumb 
by his voice, the skylight being open, and we were silent. 
The Sentry said : *' It's only Mr. Fisher, Sir ! " so he 
shut the door ! The Commander, Sir George Tryon, 
wasn't so nice ! He sent down a message to say the 
Gunnery Lieutenant was " to stop that fooling ! " 
(However, this only drove us into another kind of sport !) 



We were all very happy messmates ; they kindly spoilt 
me as if I was the Baby. I never went ashore by any 
chance, so all the other Lieutenants liked me because I 
took their duty for them. One of them was like Nelson's 
signal — he expected every man to do his duty ! I was his 
bosom friend, which reminds me of another messmate I 
had who, the witty First Lieutenant said, always reminded 
him of Nelson ! Not seeing the faintest resemblance, I 
asked him why. "Well," he said, "the last thing 
Nelson did was to die for his country, and that is the 
last thing this fellow would do ! " It may be an old joke, 
but I'd never heard it before, and it was true. 

I got on very well with the sailors, and our gunnery 
was supposed to be A i. They certainly did rush the 
guns about, so I was sent in charge of the bluejackets to 
a banquet given them ashore. I imagined that on our 
return they might have had a good lot of beer, so I 
appealed to their honour and affection, when we marched 
back to the ship in fours, to take each other's arms. They 
nobly did it ! And I got highly complimented for the 
magnificent way they marched back through the streets ! ! 
And this is the episode ! The galleries at the banquet 
were a mass of ladies, and very nice-looking ones. When 
the banquet was over, the Captain of the Maintop 
of the ''Warrior," John Kiernan by name, unsoHcited, 
stood up in his chair and said : " On behalf of his top- 
mates he wished to thank the Mayor and Corporation 
for a jolly good dinner and the best beer he'd ever tasted," 
He stopped there and said : " Bill, hand me up that beer 
again." Bill said there was no more ! A pledge had been 

147 L 2 


given by the Mayor that they should have only two 
bottles of beer each. But this episode was too much 
for the Mayor, and instantly in came beer by the dozen, 
and my beloved friend, the Captain of the Maintop, had 
another glass. This is how he went on (and it was a very 
eloquent speech in my opinion. I remember every word 
of it to this day) He said : " This is joy," and he looked 
round the galleries crowded with the lovely ladies, and 
said : " Here we are, British Sailors entirely surrounded 
by females ! ! " They waved their handkerchiefs and 
kissed their hands, and that urged the Captain of the 
Maintop into a fresh flight of eloquence. '' Now," he 
said, " Shipmates, what was it like now coming into this 
'ere harbour of Liverpool " (we had come in under sail) ; 
*' why," he said, *' this is what it was like, sailing into a 
haven of joy before a gale of pleasure." I then told him 
to shut up, because he would spoil it by anything more, 
and Abraham Johnson, Chief Gunner's Mate, my First 
Lieutenant, gave him more beer ! and so we returned. 

Abraham Johnson was a wonder ! When the Admiral 
inspected the "Warrior," Abraham Johnson came to me 
and said he knew his Admiral, and would I let him have 
a free hand ? I said : *' All right ! " When the ship was 
prepared for battle, the Admiral suddenly said : " Fll go 
down in the Magazine," and began going down the steps 
of the Magazine with his sword on ! Abraham was just 
underneath down below, and called up to the Admiral : 
*' Beg pardon. Sir ! you can't come down here ! " '' D— n 
the fellow ! what does he mean ? " Abraham reiterated : 
*' You can't come down here." The Admiral said : 



"Why not ? " ** Because no iron instrument is allowed 
in the Magazine," said Abraham. *' Ah ! " said the 
Admiral, unbuckling his sword, " that fellow knows his 
duty. This is a properly organised ship ! " 

It is seldom appreciated — ^it certainly was not then 
appreciated on board the " Warrior " when I was her 
Gunnery Lieutenant — that this, our first armour-clad 
ship-of-war, the "Warrior," would cause a fundamental 
change in what had been in vogue for something like a 
thousand years ! For the Navy that had been founded 
by Alfred the Great had lasted till then without any 
fundamental change till came this first Ironclad Battle- 
ship. There is absolutely nothing in common between 
the fleets of Nelson and the Jutland Battle ! Sails have 
given way to steam. Oak to steel. Lofty four-decked 
ships with 144 guns like the " Santissima Trinidad," to 
low-lying hulls like that of the first "Dreadnought." 
Guns of one hundred tons instead of one ton ! And 
Torpedoes, Mines, Submarines, Aircraft. And then even 
coal being obsolete ! And, unlike Nelson's day, no human 
valour can now compensate for mechanical inferiority. 

I rescue these few words by a survivor of the German 
Battle Cruiser " Bliicher," sunk on January 24th, 1915, by 
the British Battle Cruisers " Lion " and " Tiger." The 
German Officer says : 

*' The British ships started to fire at us at 15 kilometres 
distant " (as a matter of fact it was about 11 to 12 miles). 
" The deadly water spouts came nearer and nearer ! The 
men on deck watched them with a strange fascination 1 

" Soon one pitched close to the ship, and a vast watery 
billow, a hundred yards high, fell lashing on the deck ! 



" The range had been found ! 

" The shells came thick and fast. The electric plant 
was destroyed, and the ship plunged into a darkness that 
could be felt ! You could not see your hand before your 
nose ! Below decks were horror and confusion, mingled 
with gasping shouts and moans ! At first the shells came 
dropping from the sky, and they bored their way even 
to the stokeholds ! 

" The coal in the bunkers was set on fire, and as the 
bunkers were half empty the fire burnt fiercely. In the 
engine-room a shell licked up the oil and sprayed it 
around in flames of blue and green, scarring its victims 
and blazing where it fell. Men huddled together in dark 
compartments, but the shells sought them out, and there 
Death had a rich harvest." 

I forgot to say we had a surprise visit from Garibaldi 
on board the " Warrior " — Garibaldi, then at the zenith of 
his glory. The whole crew marched past him singing 
the Garibaldi Hymn. He was greatly affected. It was 
very fine indeed ; for we had a picked stalwart crew, and 
their sword bayonets glistening in the sun, and in their 
white hats and gaiters they looked, as they were, real 
fighting men ! And then, in a moment, they stripped 
themselves of their accoutrements and swarmed up 
aloft and spread every sail on the ship, including studding 
sails, in a few minutes. It was a dead calm, and so was 

From the " Warrior " I went to the gunnery school ship, 
the " Excellent '* ; and it was during these years that some 
of my '' manias " began to display themselves, the result 
being that three times I lost my promotion through 



It had fortuned that in 1868, when starting the Science 
of Under- Water Warfare as appHed to the Ocean, I met 
a humble-minded armourer whose name was Isaac Tall, 
and for many years we worked together. He devised, 
amongst other inventions, an electrically-steered steam 
vessel that could tow barges laden with 500 lb. mines 
which were dropped automatically at such a distance 
apart as absolutely to destroy all hostile mines in a 
sufficient area to give a passage for Battleships. Small 
buoys were automatically dropped as the countermines 
were dropped to mark the cleared passage. That inven- 
tion, simplicity itself, still holds the field for clearing a 
passage, say, into the Baltic. Not one single man was on 
board the steam vessel of the Barges carrying the counter 

Before leaving the Admiralty, in January, 19 10, I 
introduced the use of Trawlers, and we employed them 
in experimental trials, clearing away hostile mines. Our 
mines in those days were very inferior to the Hertz Ger- 
man Mine, which really remains still the efficient German 
Mine we have to contend with. In 1868 I took out a 
provisional patent for a Sympathetic Exploder, and, 
strange to say, it is now coming into play in a peculiar 
form as a most effective weapon for our use. 

I have remarked elsewhere how the First Lord of that 
date did not believe in mines or torpedoes, and I left for 
China as Commander of the China flagship. 

Archbishop Magee, that wonderful Prelate who asked 
some laym^an to interpret his feelings when the footman 
spilt the onion sauce over him, said of '* Exaggerations " 



that they were needful ! He said you wanted a big brush 
to produce scenic effects ! A camel's-hair brush was, no 
doubt, the inestimable weapon of Memling in those 
masterpieces of his minute detail that were at Bruges 
when I was a young Post Captain, and that so entranced 
me there. Ah ! that wonderful Madame Polsonare 
where we lodged ! How she did so well care for us ! 
The peas I used to watch her shelling ! The three 
repositories : 

First — the old ones to be stewed. 
Second — those for the Polsonare Family. 
Thirdly — the youngest and sweetest of the peas for us 
— her lodgers ! 

And how most delicious they were ! And how delightful 
was old '* Papa " Polsonare ! and the daughters so plump 
and opulent in their charm ! 

And their only son the " brave Beige ! " He was a 
soldier ! What has become of them now ? They cared 
for us as their very own, and charged us the very minimum 
for our board and lodging ! And having nothing but my 
pay then I was grateful ! And the Kindergarten so 
delightful ! The little children all tied together by a rope 
when they went out walking. Pamela was my youngest 
daughter. " The last straw " was her nickname ! And it 
was written up over the mantelpiece that it was " defendu " 
to kiss Pamela ! She was about three years old, I think, 
and went to school with a bun and her books strapped to 
her back, and when the Burgomaster gave away the prizes 
she was put on a Throne to hand them out (dressed as 



a Ballet Dancer !). But alas ! when the moment came 
she was found to be fast asleep ! 

I am always so surprised that so little notice is taken 
of Satan's dramatic appearance before the Almighty with 
reference to the Patriarch Job. It's so seldom that 
Satan in person comes before us. He usually uses 
someone else, and in this case of Job it's quite the most 
subtle innuendo I ever came across ! It so accentuates 
what occurs in common life ! 

'' Doth Job fear God for nought?'* Well may one be 
thankful and prayerful when prosperity is showered on 
one ! Can you be so in adversity and affliction — un- 
deserved and unexplainable ? However, Job got through 
all right I But Prayer is as much misunderstood as 
Charity. A splendid Parson in Norfolk replied to his 
congregation who asked him to pray for rain that really 
it was useless while the wind was east ! Also it appears 
to me that one farmer, wanting rain for his turnips, 
doesn't have any feeling for the other man who is against 
rain because of carrying his crop of something else. 
Indeed the pith and marrow of prayer is that it must be 
absolutely unselfish, and so Dr. Chalmers accordingly 
acutely said the finest prayer he knew was : " Almighty 
God, the Fountain of all Wisdom, who knowest our 
necessities," etc. {see Collects at end of Communion 

Coming home from the China Station in 1872, I was 
Commander of the old Battleship " Ocean." She was an 
old wooden I^ine of Battleship that had armour bolted 
on her sides. When we got into heavy weather, the 



timbers of the ship would open when she heeled over 
one way, and shut together when she heeled the other, 
and squirted the water inboard ! And always we had 
many fountains playing in the bottom of the ship from 
leaks, some quite high. At Singapore the Chaplain left 
us ; he couldn't face it, as we were going home round the 
Cape of Good Hope at the stormy season. So I did 
chaplain ! When we put into Zanzibar on the East Coast 
of Africa, I heard there was a sick Bishop ashore from 
Central Africa who had been carried down on a shutter 
with fever. I went to see him, to ask whether he could 
take on next day, Sunday, and give the crew a change ! 
He turned out to be a splendid specimen, and had given 
up a fat living in Lincolnshire to be a Missionary. I 
found him eating boiled rice and a hard boiled egg on a 
broken plate— we gave him a good feed when he came 
on board — but I am telling the story because his Sermon 
was on Prayer. He gave us no text, but began by saying 
he had been wondering for the last half-hour what on 
earth that thing was overhead between the beams on the 
main deck where we were assembled ! Of course we 
knew it was one of the long pump handles for pumping 
the ship out with the chain pumps (a thing of past ages) 
— all the crew had to take continually to the pumps, she 
was leaking so badly — and " There ! " he said, " I'm a 
Bishop, and instead of saying my prayers I've been letting 
my thoughts wander," and he gave us a beautiful ex- 
tempore sermon on wandering thoughts on Prayer that 
hit everyone in the eye ! 

I believe he died there in Central Africa, a polished 



English gentleman, with refined tastes and delighting in 
the delicacies of a cultured life ! A missionary had come 
preaching at his Country Church and had made him 
ashamed of his life of ease, so he told me ! 

We got into a fierce gale off the Cape, and I began to 
envy the Chaplain we had left behind at Singapore, 
especially when the Captain said he thought there was 
nothing for it but for me, the Commander, to go aloft 
about the close reefed fore topsail as the men would 
follow no one of lower rank. My monkey jacket was 
literally " blown into ribbons ! " I had heard the ex- 
pression before, but never had realised it could be exact ! 

Sir Thomas Troubridge foundered with all hands in 
the exact place in an old two-decker — I think it was the 
" Blenheim." He was Nelson's favourite, and got ashore 
in the " Culloden " at the Nile ; but that's another story 
as Mr. Kipling says ! 

How I BECAME Captain of the *' Inflexible " 

The " Inflexible " in 1882 was a wonder. She had the 
thickest armour, the biggest guns, and the largest of 
everything beyond any ship in the world. A man could 
crawl up inside the bore of one of her guns. Controversy 
had raged round her. The greatest Naval Architects of 
the time quarrelled with each other. Endless inventions 
were on board her, accumulated there by cranks in the 
long years she took building. A German put a new type 
of gas into the engine room, which was lovely, and no 
smell, so bright, so simple ! But when it chanced to 
escape from a leaky joint, it descended and did not rise, 



so it got into all the double bottoms and nearly polished 
off a goodly number of the crew. There were whistles 
in my cabin that yelled when the boiler was going to 
burst, or the ship was not properly steered, and so on. So 
to be Captain of the " Inflexible " was much sought after. 
As each name was discussed by the Board of Admiralty 
it got " butted," that is to say, it would be remarked : 

'' Yes, he's a splendid officer and quite fit for it, but " 

and then some reason was adduced why he should not 
be selected (he had murdered his father, or he had kissed 
the wrong girl !). Lord Northbrook, who was First Lord, 
got sick of these interminable discussions as to who should 
be Captain of the " Inflexible," so he unexpectedly said 
one morning : " Do any of you know a young Captain 
called Fisher ? " And they all— 'having no notion of what 
was in Lord Northbrook's mind, and I being well known 
to each of them — had no " buts " ! So he got up and said : 
" Well, that settles it. I'll appoint him Captain of the 
" Inflexible." I was about the Junior Captain in the 
biggest ship ! 

However, the " Inflexible " brought me to death's door, 
as I was suddenly struck down by dysentery when ashore 
in charge of Alexandria after the bombardment. I had 
arranged an armoured train, with which we used to 
reconnoitre the enemy, who were in great strength and 
only a few miles off. The Officer who took my place 
in the armoured train the day after I was disabled by 
dysentery was knocked over by one of the enemy shells, 
and so it was telegraphed home that I was killed, and 
Queen Victoria telegraphed back for details, and very 



interesting leading articles appeared as to what I might 
have been had I lived. Lord Northbrook telegraphed 
for me to be sent home immediately, kindly adding that 
the Admiralty could build another " Inflexible " but not 
another Fisher. 

As I was being carried on board, in a brief moment's 
consciousness I heard the Doctor say : " He'll never 
reach Gibraltar ! " and then and there I determined I 
would live. When I got home, Lord Northbrook 
appointed me Head of the Gunnery School of the Navy. 
Queen Victoria asked me to stay at Osborne, and did so 
every year till she died ; and this in spite of the fact that 
she hated the Admiralty, and didn't much care for the 

I kept on being ill from the effects of the dysentery 
for a long time, but Lord Northbrook never let go my 
hand. When all the doctors failed to cure me, I accident- 
ally came across a lovely partner I used to waltz with, 
who begged me to go to Marienbad, in Bohemia. I did 
so, and in three weeks I was in robust health. It was 
the Pool of Bethesda, and this waltzing angel put me into 
it, for it really was a miracle, and I never again had a 
recurrence of my illness. 




Lord Rosebery may have forgotten it, but in one of our 
perigrinations round and round Berkeley Square (I lived 
next door to him) he made a remark to me which made 
a deep and ineffaceable impression on me — that he felt 
sure one of the great reasons of Nelson being so in the 
hearts of his countrymen was the conviction that he had 
been slighted by Authority and even so after his death. 
Unquestionably his brother Admirals were envious. 
He was kept kicking his heels at Merton on half pay in 
momentous times, and so poor as to necessitate his 
getting advances from his Banker. He was cavalierly 
treated when he was told to haul down his flag and come 
home after the Battle of the Nile. I know all about the 
Queen of Naples and Lady Hamilton ; but what was that 
in comparison with his astounding genius for war and 
his hold on the Fleet } And I want to draw attention to 
this delightful trait in his glorious character. Supposing 
(what I don't admit) that there was any irregularity in his 
attachment to Lady Hamilton, he never disguised his 
feeling for her, or his gratitude to her for all she did for 



his grievously wounded and frail body after the Nile 
and her splendid conduct in getting his Fleet revictualled 
and stored by the Neapolitans through her influence with 
the King and Queen, when all the Authorities were 
against it. He used to ask his Captains to drink her 
health, and said (in my opinion quite truly), that if there 
were more Emmas there would be more Nelsons. 

Then look at the Battle of the Nile! It was an 
incomparable battle— but it only made Nelson into a 
Common or Garden Lord; when the Battle of Cape 
St. Vincent, which was practically won by Nelson, made 
Sir John Jervis into an Earl. History is so written that 
no end of literary gentlemen will endeavour to confute 
all I am saying by extracts (or, as they will call them, facts) 
from Contemporary Documents and Newspapers. Well 
now, to-day, read the Morning Post and Daily 
News on the same incident ! (For myself I prefer 
the Daily Nezvs.) Again, Nelson died poor. That 
appeals. What Prize Money might he not have accumu- 
lated, had he chased dollars as he chased the enemy ! 
Then with his dying breath, mortally wounded in the 
hour of the greatest of sea victories, he asks his country 
to provide for his friend as he could do nothing for her 
himself ; and, whatever may have been her fauUs, she had 
nursed and tended him, not only when sorely wounded 
after the Nile, but afterwards when his frail body was 
almost continuously racked with pain. She died in 
penury and found a pauper's grave in a foreign land. A 
passing Englishman paid her funeral expenses. It makes 
one rise up and say " Damn I " 



That vivid immortal spirit, whose life was his country's, 
who never flogged a man ; whose heart was tender and 
" worn on his sleeve for daws to peck at," has to suffer 
even now for miscreants who published his letters to 
this friend of his that only her eye was meant to see. 
Also, Prudes nowadays forget how very different was the 
standard of morals at that time. Does not history tell 
us that Dukes were the honoured results of illicit rela- 
tionships ? And we don't think any the worse of Abraham 
because he was the husband of more than one wife. But 
let that pass. I heard yesterday that a distinguished 
Bishop said he loved my sentiments but not my words. 
But fancy ! Nelson left on half-pay in War ! It's un- 
believable, but yet it so happened. It was envy ; and he 
was no sycophant, so he couldn't be a courtier. It was 
so with him as with our great Exemplar : '' The Common 
People heard him gladly." And what a " Send-off " it 
was on Southsea beach at Portsmouth when he 
embarked for Trafalgar ! What a scene it was, with 
these Common People surging round him — none else 
were there, and neither the King nor the Admiralty sent 
a dummy, as is customary, to represent them. But isn't 
it always the way } General Booth and Doctor Barnardo 
weren't buried in Westminster Abbey ; but they had a 
more glorious funeral— millions of the *' Common People" 
followed them to their graves, unmarshalled and un- 
solicited. Give me the Common People, and a fig for 
your State ceremonial ! 

Perhaps in this cursory view of Nelson one may be 


1904. Aged 63. Admiral. 
Commander-in-Chief at Portsmouth. 


permitted to seize on what appears to me the central 
incident of his Hfe, which so peculiarly illustrates his 
extraordinary genius for War. His audacity ! His 
imagination ! His considered rashness ! I think myself 
the Battle of the Nile is that incident — for this reason : 
that it has been recorded in writing what actually occurred 
to Lord Nelson and to the French Admiral at the very 
same instant of time — each having at his side the very 
same officer in each Fleet. It was sunset. Nelson was 
walking the deck with the Navigating Officer of the Fleet 
— the " Master of the Fleet " was his technical title. 
The look-out man at the mast-head reports seeing on the 
horizon the mast-heads of a mass of ships at anchor — it 
was the French Fleet in Aboukir Bay. Nelson instantly 
stops in his walk and orders the signal to the Fleet to 
make all possible sail and steer for the enemy. He is 
remonstrated with, both by his own officers on board 
and by his favourite Captain of the Fleet at going in to 
fight the French Fleet without any charts. If he waited 
till the sun rose, they would be able to see from aloft 
the shoal water and so steer with safety alongside the 
enemy. Nelson answers his favourite Captain that if 
that Captain's ship does get on shore, as he fears, then 
she'll be a buoy to show him where anyhow one shoal 
is. Troubridge did get on shore, and he was 2. buoy. 
Nelson went in. The French Admiral blew up at 
midnight in his flagship the " Orient " and Casabianca, 
his Captain, and his son are the theme of a great poem : 
*' The boy stood on the burning deck." 

161 M 


The French Admiral was walking up and down the 
deck with his Master of the Fleet, when his look-out man 
at the mast-head reported on the horizon the topmast 
sails of a number of ships. The French Admiral stopped 
in his walk as abruptly as Nelson and at the very same 
instant that Nelson stopped in his walk ; but he said 
*' It's the English Fleet, but they won't come in to-night. 
They have no charts ! " So he did not recall his men from 
the shore — and in the result his fleet was destroyed, 
and the one or two ships that did escape under Admiral 
Dumanoir were captured. And Napoleon wrote, *' But 
for Nelson at the Nile I would have been Conqueror of 
the World " — or words to that effect. And yet Nelson 
was only made a common or garden Lord for this great 
battle, and spent two years on the Continent kicking his 
heels about to pass the time before returning to England. 
Imagine ! he wasn't wanted ! I think Lord Rosebery was 
right — Nelson being slighted has led to his greater 

Again — even a greater slight, a slight he feels more — 
when he looks down from his monument in Trafalgar 
Square, does he see anywhere those splendid Captains 
of his ? But let alone those Captains of his— does he 
see anywhere a single Admiral ? Not one. And yet who 
made England what she is ? Those splendid Sea Heroes 
are in very deed " England's forgotten worthies " ! Yes ! 
Nelson looks down from his isolated column, and looks 
in vain for Hawke, Dundonald, Howe, Hood, Rodney, 
Cornwallis, Benbow, " and a great multitude which no 
man can number " — all Seamen of Deathless Fame, 



fighting single frigate actions, cutting out the enemy's 
ships from under the guns of forts, sending in fire ships 
and burning the enemy's vessels thought to be safe in 
harbour under the guns of their forts — Doers of Im- 
perishable Deeds ! ^ Death found them fighting. We 
have heaps of statues to everybody else. Indeed such a 
lot of them that they reach down as far off as Knights- 
bridge. But who knows about Quiberon — one of the 
greatest of sea fights ? And if you mention Hawke, your 
friend probably thinks only of his worthy descendant — 
the cricketer. 

An old woman eating a penny bun asked a friend of 
mine called Buggins, when she was passing through 
Trafalgar Square, " What are them lions a-guarding of? " 
Buggins told her that her penny bun would have cost her 
threepence if it hadn't been for the man them lions were 
a-guarding of. 

When I see the Duke of York's Column still allowed 
to rear its futile head, and scores of other fifth-rate 
nonentities glorified by statues, I thank God I'm a sailor 
— we don't want to be in that galley ! 

I began my sea life with the last of Nelson's Captains, 
through Nelson's own niece; and I fitly, I think, among my 
last words may ask the Nation to do justice to Nelson's 
Trade ! This country owes all she has to the sea, it was 
the sea that won the late war, and if we'd stuck to the 

1 There are statues of Franklin and of Robert Falconer Scott in 
Waterloo Place ; but neither of these displayed his heroism in naval 
action. They were each peaceable seekers — but what on earth good 
accrues from going to the North and South Poles I never could under- 
stand — no one is going there when they can go to Monte Carlo 1 

163 M 2 


sea we should not now be thinking of bankruptcy and 
some of us imagining Carthage ! We were led away by 
MiHtarist folly to be a conscript Nation and it will take 
us all we know to recover from it. We shall recover, 
for England never succumbs ! 




Lord Esher has kindly sent me three bulky volumes 
of letters I wrote him from 1903 onwards — I have others 
also. Many of them are unquotable, so blasting are they 
in their truth to existing reputations. It's not my 
business to blast reputations — so the real gems are missing. 

Somebody felt in 1903 that the War Office was wrong, 
and so a Committee was set up with Lord Esher as 
President, Sir George Clarke and myself the other two 
members ; and that very able and not sufficiently recog- 
nised man, now General Sir C. Ellison, was Secretary. 
How I got there is still a mystery ; but it was a great en- 
joyment as Generals came to stay with me at Admiralty 
House, Portsmouth — I was the Port Admiral. I always 
explained to them I was Lord Esher's facile dupe and 
Sir George Clarke's servile copyist, and thereby avoided 
odium personally (I was getting all the odium I wanted 
from the Admirals !). 

As usual, when we reported, the Government didn't 
appreciate those inestimable words *' Totus Porcus " 
(No Government — anyhow no English Government— 



ever yet went ** the whole hog " — ** Compromise " is 
the British God !).i 

1903 [Sir John Fisher^ Commander-in-Chief at 


. . . My humble idea is that " men are everything 
and material nothing " whether it's working the War 
Office or fighting a fleet ! So some day I am going to 
try and entice you to read my lectures to the Officers of 
the Mediterranean Fleet because the spirit intended to 
be diffused by them is what I think is the one great want 
in the British Army, and without it 50,000 Lord Eshers 
would be no good in producing " Angel Gabriel " organ- 
isations ! The Military system is rotten to the very core ! 
You want to begin ab ovo ! The best of the Generals 
are even worse than the subalterns because they are more 
hardened sinners ! I fear I shocked Ellison, but 
he is simply first class and I most heartily congratulate 
you on your selection. ... I really begin ^o feel I never 
ought to have joined you as I have some very big jobs 
on now which require incessant personal attention and 
this must be my excuse for not coming up to see Girouard 
this week. I have the new Civil Lord staying with me 
and I have got to prevent him joining with a lot of asses 
at the Admiralty, who want to throw half a million of 
money in the gutter. 

Nov. 19th, 1903. 

On my return I found the first proofs of your three 
papers. I have studied them with close care and interest. 
There are some points of detail which puzzle me, but it 
seems you are absolutely convincing on the main lines. 
What I venture to emphasise is this : — We cannot reform 
the Army Administration until it is laid down what it is 
the Administration is going to Administer ! For instance, 

' In the following selections, words between square brackets are not 
part of the original letters. 



the Citizen Army for Home Defence ! Are we going to 
have it ? If so, then you will certainly want a Member of 
the Board or Council to superintend it ! Again, I say, 
the Regular Army (as distinguished from the Home Army 
and the Indian Army) should be regarded as a projectile 
to be fired by the Navy ! The Navy embarks it and lands 
it where it can do most mischief ! — Thus, the Germans 
are ready to land a large Military Force on the Cotentin 
Peninsula in case of War with France and my German 
Military Colleague at the Hague Conference told me this 
comparatively small Military Force would have the effect 
of demobilising half a million of men who would thus be 
taken away from the German Frontier — they never know 
where the devil the brutes are going to land ! Conse- 
quently instead of our Military Manoeuvres being on 
Salisbury Plain and its vicinity (ineffectually aping the 
vast Continental Armies !) we should be employing 
ourselves in joint Naval and Military Manoeuvres em- 
barking 50,000 men at Portsmouth and landing them at 
Milford Haven or Bantry Bay ! — This would make the 
Foreigners sit up ! Fancy ! in the Mediterranean Fleet 
we disembarked 12,000 men with guns in 19 minutes! 
What do you think of that ! and we should hurry up the 
soldiers ! No doubt there would be good-natured chaff ! 
Once we embarked 7,000 soldiers at Malta and took 
them round and landed them elsewhere for practice, and 
I remember having a complaint that the Bluejackets 
said " Come on, you bloody lobsters ! Wake up ! " 
However all the above en passant. I expect the 
Prime Minister must have pretty good ideas now crys- 
tallised as to how the Army should be constituted — let 
us ask him for this at once — if he hasn't got it, let us 
tell him we must have it, because as I said at starting, 
you can't organise an administration without clearly 
knowing what you are going to administer. This is a 
hasty bit of writing but not a hasty thought. 




Nov. 2$th. 

I send you two books — a more portly volume I hesitate 
to send ! — Also I fear without some verbal explanation 
you may not see the application to Military matters of 
these purely Naval Notes, but they do apply in the 
spirit if not in the letter ! For instance I had an over- 
whelming confidence that every Officer and man in the 
Mediterranean Fleet had also an overwhelming confidence 
that we thoroughly knew all we had to do in case of war 
in every conceivable eventuality ! Well ! that is the 
confidence you also want in an Army ! Have you got it ! 

Dec. 2nd. 

Here is a letter just come from Prince Louis of Bat- 
tenberg illustrating what I was saying to you this morning 
as to a Member of the Board of Admiralty however 
junior in rank being accepted as a superior controlling 
authority by all in rank above him. An Officer actually 
at the moment serving under Prince Louis in the Admir- 
alty itself being put over Prince Louis in the Admiralty 
itself, and sending for him and giving him orders ! I 
don't know that it would be possible to have a stronger 
case to quote when by and by we have to defend or 
rather have to lay down and define the status of the 
Members of the New War Office Board. Inglefield, the 
new Naval Lord, being a Junior Captain, will be sending 
for Admiral Boys, Director of Transports, who is speci- 
ally under him and who I rather think entered the service 
before Inglefield was born. 

Dec. 4th. 

.... You are right about the Submarines ! 

** We strain at the gnat of perfection and swallow the 
camel of unreadiness ^^^ and that permeates every branch 
of Naval and Military Administration, forgetting the 
homely proverb that " half a loaf is better than no 



bread ! " but please God ! ^^ the dauntless three " [Sir 
Geo. Clarke, Lord Esher and Sir John Fisher] (as I see 
we are now called) will change all that ! " We'll stagger 
humanity " as old Kruger said ! 

Dec. 'jth. 

Arnold- Forster [Secretary for War] has been here three 
days and he is most cordially with us. I wish you had 
been here with him. He places implicit trust in us. He 
has shown me an outline of an excellent memorandum 
proposing an immediate reduction of 300,000 men and 
he will let me have a copy as soon as printed, also a 
memorandum of his difficulties in the War Office. . . . 
This is another proof of the value of the advice of my 
Military Nicodemus (he is one of the Sanhedrin !) that 
there must be an active '* clear-out " of the present 
military gang, root and branch, lock, stock, and gunbarrel ! 
Sir John French and General Smith-Dorrien (lately 
Adjutant-General in India) are names I have suggested 
to Arnold-Forster as members of his new Board. 

Dec. 11th. 

.... Don't forget your phrase " the hieniiial fort- 
nightly picnic " ! ifs splendid I That will fetch the mothers 
of families and reconcile them to the Swiss system ! I 
hope you won't lose any time in talking to the Prime 
Minister and showing him the immense advantages that 
will accrue from his turning over further matters to us 
instead of dear Arnold-Forster " raising Cain " as he 
surely will do ! It would be so easy to associate Sir 
John French, Hildyard and Smith-Dorrien (very curious 
that all these three Generals were first in the Navy and 
got their early education there) with us for the further 

Dec. lyth. 

Another Military Nicodemus came to see me yesterday. 
I had never met him before ! He occupies a high official 



position. He highly approved of you and me, " but he 
had never heard of the third member of the Committee. 
What a pity they had not put a soldier on the Committee !" 
(How these Christians hate one another !) But the point 
of his remarks was the present system of Army Promo- 
tions, which he said was as iniquitous and baleful in its 
influence as could be possibly conceived, and then he 
illustrated by cases of certain officers made Generals. 
My only object in writing this to you is Selborne having 
spoken of the Admiralty method where the first Lord 
has the Naval Members of the Board in consultation, 
but he and his Private Secretary (who is always a Naval 
Officer of note) have the real responsibility. 

Dec. 2oth. 

is and always has been drastic in his ideas of 

military reform, and I cordially agree with him and 
Stead agrees with me that the British Public loves a 
root and branch reform. One remnant left of the old 
gang or the organisations and you taint the whole new 
scheme ! 

Don't fear about Arnold-Forster. He will come with 
us all right — you are absolutely sound on the Patronage 
question, but I would have the soldiers precisely on the 
same footing as Tyrwhitt at the Admiralty [Private 
Secretary. He was my Flag Captain] for detailed 
reasons I will give you when we meet. It is an ideal 
arrangement (the Private Secretary at Admiralty). He 
has the power, he pulls the strings, he has no position, 
he causes no jealousy, he talks to all the Lords as their 
servant, and he manipulates them all and oils the machine 
for his special master, the First Lord, to perpetrate a 
job when necessary ! Make him a big-wig like an Official 
Military Secretary, and all this goes — he becomes too 
big for his boots ! 



Dec. 21 St. 

... I've been bombarded by Stead. I tried to 
boom him off but the scoundrel said if I didn't see him, 
he would have to invent ! I pointed out to him my 
metier was that of the mole ! Trace me by upheavals ! 
When you see the Admirals rise it's that d — d fellow Jack 
Fisher taking the rise out of them ! So I implored Stead 
to keep me out of the Magazine Rifle [this was my 
name for The Reviezo of Reviezvs] or he will interfere 
with my professional career of crime. So please use 
your influence with him in the same direction. You and 
Clarke are the two legitimate members of the Committee 
to be trotted out, as you are both so well known. No 
sailor is ever known. The King was awfully good about 
this. He said " Sailors went all round the world but 
never went in it " ! Stead is a very keen observer, as 
you know. He said our Committee could do anything, 
and that neither the Press nor Parliament nor the Public 
would tolerate any Military opposition to us because the 
whole Military hierarchy was utterly discredited from 
top to bottom ; but he doubted The Times — / don't. 
Further he expressed his firm belief there would be a 
change of Government possibly at Easter but certainly 
soon — if so we ought on that ground alone to '* dig out " 
with our Report. 

(No date.) 

KnoUys was very much impressed by the possibilities 
of the Submarine when he was down here. He saw them 
to better advantage than you did as it was blowing half 
a gale of wind with a good sea on when he saw the 
evolutionising ! and it was very striking. I am working 
subterraneously about the Submarines and there are 
already " upheavals " in consequence. 




Jan. $th. 

... I yesterday sent all my plans to French for 
embarking the whole of his First Army Corps on Monday, 
June 27th (Full Moon) at Portsmouth, and he is coming 
here with his Chief Staff Officer, Sir F. Stopford, next 
week, and we'll land him like Hoche's Army in Bantry 
Bay ! [Sir John French commanded at Aldershot. The 
War Office stopped this.l 

Jan. lyth. 

.... For the reason I have given you at length in 
another letter I am convinced that French should be 
I St Military Member and under him there should be 
3 Directors (not Hieroglyphics such as A.Q.M.G., 
D.A.Q.M.G., A.Q.M.G. 2, etc., etc.). 

Sir F. Stopford — Director of Intelligence and Mobilisa- 

Gen. Grierson — Director of Training. 
Gen. Maxwell — Director of Home Defence. 

Also I still maintain that Smith-Dorrien and Plumer 
should be the 2nd and 3rd Military Members, and 
perhaps one young distinguished Indian Officer as 4th 
Military Lord. Haig, Inspector-General of Cavalry in 
India, should be brought home as the principal Director 
under 2nd Military Lord. We must have youth and 
enthusiasm, because it is only by the agency of young 
and enthusiastic believers in the immense revolution 
which must be carried out, that our scheme can bear 
fruit. The first thing of all is that every one of the 
" old gang " must be cleared out ! " lock, stock, and 
gunbarrel, bob and sinker ! " The next is that everyone 
of the new men inust be successful men, and must be young 
and enthusiastic and cordial supporters of the new policy 



— over every fellow's door at the War Office under the 
new regime has got to be written in large letters : — 
" No looking back. Remember Lot's wife ! " 

(No date.) 

The next pressing and important matter we have to 
deal with is to get the right men as Members of the new 
Army Council. Either you or Clarke have made a 
splendid observation that a rotten system may be run 
effectively by good men but duffers would spoil the 
work of the Angel Gabriel \ ... If we don't get in men 
who will enthusiastically adopt our scheme and work with 
us, LET us THROW UP AT ONCE ! as wc shall only have an 
awful fiasco and I (for one) don't want to go down with 
my grey hairs to the grave sorrowing and discredited ! 
Therefore I suggest to you that we should agree on our 
men and run them at once ! Like fighting the French 
Fleet ! it's half the battle gained to take the offensive, 
propose our men, give their advantages and ask them 
(our enemies) what they have to say against them and 
suggest every beastly thing we can against any likely 
competitors — Selection by Disparagement ! I put for- 
ward names in enclosed paper simply as a basis. 

ist Military Member — Sir John French, because he 
never failed in Africa (the grave of Military Reputations). 
He is young and energetic, has commanded the ist Army 
Corps so far with conspicuous success and has the 
splendid gift of choosing the right men to work with him 
{vide his Staft' in S. Africa, the best Staff out there) and 
as ist Military Lord it would be his special function to 
prepare the Army in the Field for fighting, and who 
therefore better to command it when war breaks out, 
as his functions then at the War Office would disappear 
and be transferred to the Commander-in-Chief at the 
seat of war — Further, he is an enthusiastic and out-and- 
out believer in joint Naval and Military operations as the 
proper species of manoeuvres for this Nation. In this 



belief he is almost solitary amongst all the Generals, who 
all want to play at the German Army. " Plump for 
French and Efficiency ! " Any vote given against Fretich 
is a vote given for Kelly-Ke?iny instead I 

2nd Military Member. — Smith-Dorrien. Has been 
with great success in every campaign for the last 20 
years, has been Adjutant-General in India (a much bigger 
billet than Adjutaftt-General in London !). He is young 
and energetic and is an extremely conciliatory and accom- 
pHshed gentleman and would work the personnel of the 
Army (which would be his chief function as the Second 
Military Member) far better than some " safe " old man 
because he is in touch with the young generation. He 
took a Marine Officer of the Mediterranean Fleet as his 
A.D.C. when appointed a Brigadier in South Africa, 
because he considered him the ablest young officer in the 
Malta Garrison ! Utterly shocking all the Military 
Mandarins. " Vote for Smith-Dorrien and Progress ! " 

" Every vote given against Smith-Dorrien is a vote for 
\A lady who then " ran " the War Office !] 

3rd Military Member. Supplies and Transport. — 
General Plumer. The only man besides French that 
never failed in anything he undertook in Africa ! They 
say he has " the luck of the Devil," but the fact is that 
*' the luck of the Devil " is wholly attributable to a 
minute attention to anything that will ensure the success 
of his (Satanic Majesty's) designs, and he leaves nothing 
to chance ! Such is Plumer ! He also is young, energetic 
and enthusiastic. 

" Vote for Plumer and a full belly ! " 

" Every vote given against Plumer is a vote given for 
paper boots and no ammunition ! " 

4th Military Member — General F. G. Slade, now 
Inspector General of Garrison Artillery — has served in 
six campaigns and always come out top : has been in the 
Horse, Field and Garrison Artillery and commanded at 
Gibraltar. He is young and energetic and enthusiastic 



and will blow the trumpet of the Board (as well as his 

own /). 

" Vote for Slade and hitting the Target ! " 

*' Every vote given against Slade will be a vote given in 

favour of some d — d old woman.'' . . . 

Jan. 31s/. 

Post Office Telegraphs. Government Despatch No. . . . 
" Await Arrival." 

Lord Esher Windsor Castle. 

In reply to your telegram just received our committee 
manoeuvres commenced at Portsmouth on December 30 
beating Moses by nine days as he took 40 days before he 
got down from the Mount with his report but if you refer 
to submarine manoeuvres I have last night put them off 
to February twenty third to last three weeks from that 
date stop I see we are accused of not giving credit to the 
good motives that have always actuated the War Office 
stop Why is the War Office like hell answer because it 
is paved with good intentions Sir John Fisher Ports- 

[Not bad for an official telegram !] 

Feb. ist. 

... I really think it is of extreme importance that 
you should be on the spot daily just now as without 
doubt " wire-pulling " of the " Eve " order will be going 
on. When the other day I met those three ladies on the 
back stairs of the War Office all in picture hats and smell- 
ing of White Rose or some other beastly thing, I thought 
to myself *' How about Capua } " for really they were 
very nice looking indeed. You know the story about 
them having the entree to the War Office ! 




Feb. 28th. 

Best of Chairmen ! Snatch a moment to look through 
enclosed ... as I am dead gone on starting the idea 
of a general list of officers, and general uniform and early 
entry and they will all go to sea, but I don't want to 
mention that yet awhile ; it will come of itself when 
3/5ths of every man-of-war's crew are soldiers ; that's 
not many years hence and will bring the income tax 
down to 3 pence in the pound ! Mark my words ! this 
will come, but it's no use giving people premature shocks, 
so let me keep it quiet now. My idea is to accHmatise 
the chosen few to it first of all and then gradually spread 
it about, and when Kitchener comes home he will see it 
through. (He shares my view, I know.) 


(?) March. 

. . . Campbell-Bannerman told me last night he 
intended to make a special point of the Secretary of 
State's responsibility and power being unduly lessened, 
and he would not admit that the new order of things 
makes him the same as the First Lord of the Admiralty ! 
. . . To avoid the slightest misconception that may 
arise as to the lessening of the parliamentary responsi- 
bility of the Secretary of State for War by the formation 
of the Army Council or of his supreme authority as the 
Cabinet Minister responsible for the Army, it's only 
necessary to reiterate and emphasise the statement that 
he is absolutely in the same position as the First Lord 
of the Admiralty, the patent constituting the Army 
Council being absolutely similar to the Admiralty Patent 
and no question has ever been raised nor is there any 
doubt whatever of the reform and present responsibility 
of the First Lord of the Admiralty as the Cabinet Minister 
responsible for the Navy. 




March 10th. 

Just back from the English Channel with the Sub- 
marines and am very enthusiastic ! . . . We really must 
arrange to get the British Army to Sea somehow or other ! 
Yesterday all the mice died in their cages and two of the 
crew fainted, but the young Lieutenant of the Submarine 
didn't seem to care a d — n whether they all died so long 
as he bagged the Battleship he was after, and he practically 
got her and then he came up in his Submarine to breathe ! 
Depend on it we shall have more " Niles " and " Trafal- 
gars " so long as we continue to propagate such " young 
bloods " as this ! But see how splendid if we could shove 
the same " ginger " into the young Military aspirants, 
and they all came from the same schools ! but the whole 
secret is to catch them very young and mould them while 
they are then so plastic and receptive to be just what you 
want them. Another submarine had an explosion which 
made the interior " Hell " for some seconds (as the 
Submarine was bottled up and diving to evade a De- 
stroyer who had caught her with a hook) but the Sub- 
marine Lieutenant saw them all d — d first before he 
would rise up and be caught. Another young fire-eater 
had his periscope smashed but bagged a battleship 
nevertheless by coming up stealthily to blow just like a 
beaver, and look round. It really is all lovely ! but what 
I am writing about is — you must embark an Army Corps 
every year and give them sea training. 

[**The Army and Navy Co-operative Society." 

I must here interpose a few words to explain that I 
had submitted an elaborate method of increasing the 
military efficiency of officers — first by very early entry 
as in the Navy — having free or State education for them 
— hence " Equal opportunity for all" : Officers' pay of 

177 N 


all ranks to be sufficient for them to live on — and the 
regimental system abolished — and the same system as in 
the Navy by which military officers would serve in all 
arms — ^Engineers, Artillery, Cavalry and Infantry, instead 
of being familiar with but one part of their profession. 
When the Sea Lords sit round the Board of Admiralty 
they can talk about anything, because they've been in 
every type of vessel and every branch of their Profession. 
Again, in a good regiment the promotion is slow because 
the officers stick to it. In a bad regiment the promotion 
is rapid because everyone wants to leave it. Then, 
finally, I submitted the idea of the Army and Navy being 
incorporated in one great Service. There is no going 
aloft now — a ship can be manned by soldiers with equal 
efficiency as by sailors. You want nucleus crews thor- 
oughly used to the ship and always in her, knowing all 
her foibles. Brains — the Beef needn't be equally clever ! 
The military officers in the Peninsular War only i6 
years old were splendid and they were numerous.] 


March 20th. Telegram. 

Suggest if Prime Minister takes no immediate action he 
may be asked that the Committee in self-defence be 
allowed to make correspondence public as already I am 
hearing from influential friends that we are discredited 
by having made exaggerated and unjustifiable statements 
and that besides the scandalous and disparaging words 
of the Secretary of State in the House of Commons that 
the Prime Minister has more or less disavowed us by 
the tenour of his remarks. ... I venture to suggest to 
you that it is a great mistake for our Committee to be 
made a catspaw to suit Cabinet susceptibilities or parlia- 



mentary wirepulling and that we press for a full and 
complete publication. 

May 26th. 

. . . Arnold-Forster spent several hours here with 
me yesterday and he is coming again to-day discussing 
his difficulties. I tell him he can't expect his Council 
all at once to possess the attributes of the Board of 
Admiralty (which he so intensely admires) which began 
in 1619 ! They want to be educated. The individual 
Members are far too subservient now and do not realise 
they are administrative members and not Army Officers. 
They must go about in plain clothes and a tall hat, and 
order Field Marshals about like schoolboys ! . . . 

June lyth. 

... It would have been simply disastrous to have 
had an increased Army Vote. Has Clarke ever come to 
close quarters with you as to his project for getting the 
Army Estimates down to 23 millions ? for that is really 
the figure which represents the proportionate part of the 
total sum which I make out to be available for the fighting'* 
services, and unless some such figure can be arrived at 
for the Army, I do not think the British PubHc will face 
the reduction in the Navy Estimates which I see to he 
possible with the increased efficiency ; because they will 
rightly argue that the Navy is the ist, 2nd, 3rd, 4th 
ad infinitum line of defence, and it is simply monstrous 
therefore that the bloated Army should starve the essential 
Navy. ... It is this Army Vote that absolutely blocks 
me, because I am perfectly certain it will wreck us unless 
it can be brought down to some such figure as 23 millions 
at the outside. That N.-W. Frontier of India is the 
bug-bear which has possessed the whole lot of our present 
rulers ! and there is no " advocate of the devil " to plead 
the other side. So I hope you will put that mind of 

179 N 2 


yours to work to make the Prime Minister see his mission 
to cut down the Army Vote to 23 milHons and then we 
can go ahead and get that threepenny income tax we all 
so long for and which we can get if we like ! 


I was with the Prime Minister from 12.30 to 4 p.m. 
He was most pleasant and delightful but evidently didn't 
see his way to making the reduction in the Army Vote 
which is imperative. ... He and all the rest appear 
stupefied by the Indian Frontier Bogey and the 100,000 
men wanted. I gave him figures to show the Army had 
been increased 60,000 odd men in 10 years. If he would 
reduce them at once he would get nearly threepence off 
the income tax and get rid of his recruiting difficulties. 
The Auxiliary Forces 4I millions — absurd — the Volun- 
teers 2 millions — still more absurd ! 

July 16th. 

A.-F.'s scheme rotten ! You have hit the nail on the 
head about expense. He had the remedy in the palm of 
his hand ! He simply had to reduce what the Army had 
unnecessarily increased in 10 years — the 60,000 officers 
and men — and he got 6 millions sterling (including the 
accessories) and solved the recruiting question ! . . . 
3,700 Royal Engineers put on in 10 years and only 1/3 
of them went to the war in S.A. ! the rest enjoying 
themselves in civilian work ! and was there ever such 
ineptitude as trying to make them into railway men, 
electric engineers and sailors for submarine mines when 
you have the real thing in abundance in the railway and 
telegraph workmen of the country and fishermen for any 
water work ? This is only one sample. Every blessed 
item of the military organisation is similarly rotten ! 
Why ? Because the military system of entry and educa- 
tion is rotten. 




July 28th. 

. . . We have a new scheme for a reorganisation of 
the whole Admiralty and have got the Order in Council 
for it ! The new scheme gives the First Sea Lord nothing 
to do, except think and send for Idlers ! It also resuscitates 
the old titles of Sea Lords dating from a.d. 1613, but 
which some silly ass 100 years ago altered to Naval 

August lyih. 

... I have got 60 sheets of foolscap written with all 
the new Naval proposals and am pretty well prepared for 
the fray on October 21st. 

[Sir John Fisher became First Sea Lord of the Admir- 
alty on October 21st (Trafalgar Day), 1904 ; and the 
correspondence is scanty between that date and the 
autumn of 1907.] 

Sept 12th. 

... I really can't understand Mr. Buckle giving 

his head in this way in the columns of The Times \ 
but I suppose it " catches on " and makes the flesh creep 
of the " old women of both sexes " (as Lord St. Vincent 
called the " Invasion lot " in his day !) and his memorable 
saying so infinitely more true now than then. When 
asked his opinion of the possibility of an invasion, he 
replied *' that if considered as a purely military operation 
he was loth to offer an opinion but he certainly could 
positively state it could never take place by sea ! " 


Oct, yth. MOLVENO, 

. . . My unalterable conviction is that the Committee 
of Imperial Defence is tending rapidly to become a sort 



of Aulic Council and the man who talks glibly, utterly 
irresponsible, will usurp the functions of the two men 
who must be the *' Masters of the War " — the First Sea 
Lord and the Chief of the General Staff. Make no 
mistake — I don't mean those two men are to be Dic- 
tators, but the Government says : " Do so and so ! " 
These are the two executive Officers. ... In regard to 
the ** Invasion Bogey " about which I am now writing 
to you, how curious it is that from the German Emperor 
downwards their hearts were stricken with fear that we 
were going to attack them. . . . Here is an interview 
between Beit and the German Emperor given me at 
first hand, immediately on Beit's return from Berlin. 

Beit : " Your Majesty is very greatly mistaken in 
supposing that any feeling exists in England for war 
with Germany. I know both Mr. Balfour and Sir 
Henry Campbell-Bannerman are absolutely averse to any 
such action. I know this of my own personal knowledge. 

The Emperor : *' Yes, yes, but it doesn't matter whether 
either of them is Prime Minister or what party is in 
power. Fisher remains ! thafs the vital fact ! I admire 
Fisher. I say nothing against him. If I were in his 
place I should do all that he has done (in concentrating 
the British Navy against Germany) and I should do all 
that / kiiozo he has it in his mind to do. Isvolsky, the 
Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs, holds the same 

And yet Mr. Leo Maxse gibbets Sir John Fisher every 
month in the National Review as a traitor to his 
country and a panderer to Germany, who " ought to be 
hung at his own yard arm ! " 

Nov. 28th. 

Can you manage to be at my room at Admiralty at 
11.30 sharp to-day (Saturday) to see arrangements for 
swallowing the German Mercantile Marine, and other 
War Apparatus ? [i.e. *' The Spider's Web "]. 



Dec. 12th. 

... I hope the Admiralty memorandum is to your 
satisfaction — of course it is only the first instalment. 
What fascinates me is that the Committee as a whole 
don't seem to take the point that the whole case of 
Roberts rests on an absolute Naval surprise, which is 
really a sheer impossibility in view of our organised 

Jan. 1st. 

... I had a tete-a-tete lunch with Winston Churchill ; 
he unexpectedly came to the Admiralty and I was 
whirled off with him to the Ritz. I had two hours with 
him. He is very keen to fight on my behalf and is 

simply kicking with fury at & Co., but I've told him 

the watchword is *' Silence." He is an enthusiastic 
friend certainly ! He told me he would get six men on 
both sides to join in con amore, F. E. Smith, &c., &c. 
I forget the other names. It was rather sweet : he said 
his penchant for me was that I painted with a big brush ! 
and was violent ! — I reminded him that even " The 
Kingdom of Heaven suffereth violence, and the violent 
take it by force " — vide yesterday's Second Lesson. 

Jan. lyih. 

Secret. ... I rather want to keep clear of Defence 
Committee till Morocco is settled, as I don't want to 
disclose my plan of campaign to anyone^ not even C.-B. 
himself. The only man who knows is Sir Arthur Wilson, 
and he's as close as wax ! The whole success will depend 
upon suddenness and unexpectedness, and the moment I 
tell anyone there's an end of both ! ! ! So just please 
keep me clear of any Conference and personally I would 
sooner the Defence Committee kept still. I m seeing 



about the Transports. I started it about 7 weeks ago 
and got 3 of my best satellites on it. . . . So you'll 
think me a villain of the deepest dye ! 


(?) Feh. gth. 

. . . We want both a re-distribution as well as a 
re-organisation of the Army — and the (comparatively) 
small Regular Army should be based on the system of 
" Nucleus Crews " — that is to say the whole body of 
Officers are provided and 2/5ths (or the expert) part of 
the crew, and the other 3/5ths of the Army you get 
from the outside Army by whatever name you like to 
call it — National Army, or Citizen Army, or Lord 
Lieutenant's Army. 

Feb. 21st. 

... Secret. Tirpitz asked a mutual civilian friend 
living in Berlin to enquire very privately of me whether 
I would agree to limiting size of guns and size of ships, 
as this is vital to the Germans, who can't go bigger than 
the Dreadnought in guns or size. I wrote back by 
return of post yesterday morning '* Tell him I'll see him 
d — d first ! " (Them's the very words /) I wonder what 
Wilhelm will say to that if Tirpitz shows him the letter ! 

Apr. igth. 

... I got a note to say the King wanted to see me 
this afternoon at 3 p.m. ... Private. I got 3 
letters from the King at Biarritz, all extremely cordial 
and communicative and unsought by me. I mention 
this to prove to you his kindly feelings and support. . . . 
When I met the King on arrival he said I was to be sure 
and see him as he had something serious to say to me. 
I suppose I was with him more than an hour, and he was 
as cordial and friendly as ever ; and this was the serious 



thing—" that I was Jekyll and Hyde ! Jekyll in being 
successful at my work at the Admirahy — but Hyde as a 
failure in Society ! That I talked too freely and was 
reported to say (which of course is a lie) that the King 
would see me through anything ! That it was bad for 
me and bad for him as being a Constitutional Monarch ; 
if the Prime Minister gave me my conge, he couldn't 
resist it, &c.,&c." . . . I told the King that if I had never 
mentioned His Majesty's name in my life, precisely the 
same thing would be said out of sheer envy of His Majesty 
being kindly disposed, and it could not be hid that the 
King had backed up the First Sea Lord against all kinds 
of opposition — As a matter of fact I never do go into 
Society, and only dine out when I'm worried to meet 
the King, and I'm not such a born idiot as to have said 
any such thing as has been reported to the King (it is 
quite likely someone else has said it I). Well he left that 
(having unburdened his mind) and smoked a cigar as 
big as a capstan bar for really a good hour afterwards, 
talking of everything from China to Peru, not excluding 
The Times article on himself. ... Oh ! he said 
something of how I worked the Press, but I didn't follow 
that up. No one knows, except perhaps yourself, that 
unless I had arranged to get the whole force of pubUc 
opinion to back up the Naval Revolution it would have 
been simply impossible to have carried it through suc- 
cessfully, for the vested interests against me were enor- 
mous and the whole force of Naval opinion was dead 
against me. But I did venture one humble remark to 
the King : " Has anyone ever been able to mention to 
Your Majesty one single little item that has failed in the 
whole multitude of reforms introduced in the last 3J 
years ? " No ! he said. No one had ! So I left it there. 
... If the Angel Gabriel were in my place he would be 
falsely accused. I'm only surprised that the King hasn't 
been told worse things — perhaps he has ! " Let him that 
thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.'' I always 



have that thought, and hope the King will have a cottage 
somewhere in Windsor Forest or elsewhere which he 
will kindly give me when it happens, so that I can come 
over and have a yarn with you ! 

May $th. 

4.15 a.m. The Early Bird ! ! . . . Yesterday, with all 
Sea Lords present, McKenna formally agreed to 4 
Dreadnoughts and if necessary 6 Dreadnoughts next 
year (perhaps the greatest triumph ever known !) . . . 
He tells me Harcourt for certain will resign on it . . . 
and he is paring down the money with a view to Supple- 
mentary Estimates. . . . This is what I suggest to you 
to impress on Lloyd George : Let there be no mistake 
about the two Keels to one in Dreadnoughts ! Let Lloyd 
George reassure McKenna and tell him to have no fear 
— it doesn't affect next year, as McKenna consents to 
4 or even 6 ; but it does affect the year after, and the 
Admiralty Finance should be arranged accordingly and 
not deplete next year at expense of year after. I wonder 
if this is all clear to you — ^that McKenna is going to give 
us the numbers for next year all right. Shove in again 
the great fact — The Navy and Army Estimates not far 
different in magnitude, and yet the Army not big enough 
to fight Bulgaria, and the Navy can take on all the Navies 
of the world put together. — " Ut veniant omnes ! ! ! " — 
** Let 'em all come ! " You might tell Lloyd George he 
can rely on my parsimony. 

Sept. 8th. 

..." The heart untravelled fondly turns to home." 
— We have no poets nowadays like Pope, Goldsmith and 
Gay — only damned mystical idiots like Browning and 
Tennyson that want a dictionary and the Differential- 
Calculus sort of mind to understand what they are 
driving at ! 



. . . I sat several times [on a recent visit abroad] between 
Stolypin, the Russian Prime Minister, and Isvolsky, the 
Foreign Secretary. I didn't begin it, but Stolypin said 
to me *' What do you think we want most ? " He fancied 
I should answer " So many battleships, so many cruisers, 
&c., &c.," but instead I said : " Your Western Frontier 
is denuded of troops and your magazines are depleted. 
Fill them up, and then talk of Fleets ! " Please see en- 
closure from Kuropatkin's secret report : " The foundation 
of Russia's safety is her Western boundary ! ! ! '^ . . . 
Have you seen Monsieur Rousseau (I think is his name) 
in Le Temps ? I had an extract of it, and put it 
aside to send you, but alas ! it has gone. " Procrastina- 
tion is the thief of good intentions " — which is not so 
good as '' Punctuality is the curse of comfort." But the 
good Frenchman (like Monsieur Hanotaux before him) 
is lost in admiration of what moved Mahan to his pungent 
saying that Garvin seized on with the inspiration of 
genius — " that 88 per cent, of the English guns were 
trained on Germany ! "... By the way, I've got Sir 
Phihp Watts into a new Indomitable that will make 
your mouth water when you see it I (and the Germans 
gnash their teeth !) 


The King has sent me a dear letter, and adds '* Don't 
print this ! " Isn't he a sweet ? What wonderful friends 
I have ! It's a marvel ! All I do is to kick their shins. 

(No date.) 

... I am going to ask you to reconsider your sup- 
plementary paper herewith. I can't find that the 
Admiralty have admitted that 24,000 men would ever 
start off together as two raids of 1 2 ,000 each . I personally 
have expressed my decided opinion (I think at the 
7th meeting) [of the Committee of Imperial Defence] to 



the contrary. Indeed, I am emphatically of opinion 
that no raid of any kind [that is, landing of troops] is feasible 
with all our late developments, which are developing 
further every day {e.g. we have our wireless on top of 
Admiralty Building and are communicating with the 
Scilly Islands now and shortly I hope Gibraltar and so 
certainly to every point of the German coast where we 
shall have Wireless Cruisers all over the place. {Not a 
dog will wag its tail without being reported.) So don't let 
us get a scare over 24,000 men coming unobserved. 
One lot of 12,000 can be put in as the Hmit ; but my 
suggestion is — leave out numbers ^ and simply say as a 
precautionary measure for the confidence of the country, 
ifs a good safe arbitrary standard to lay down that two 
Divisions of Regular Troops are always to be left in the 
Country just in the same way as laid down at the Ad- 
miralty that the Home Fleet is not for Service abroad. 

Jan. 26th. 

. . . The Admiralty hear (by wireless every moment) 
what all the Admirals and Captains are saying to each 
other anywhere in Europe and even over to the coasts 
of America. 

March i$th. 

Private & Secret & Personal. I have just finished in 
these early hours a careful re-study of your paper E. 5 
(which I love) and the criticisms thereon by French and 
the General Staff. I dismiss French's criticism as being 
that of a pure correct Cavalry expert and not dealing with 
the big questions. The General Staff criticism is on the 
other hand the thin end of the insidious wedge of our 
taking part in Continental War as apart absolutely from 
Coastal Military Expeditions in pure concert with the 
Navy — expeditions involving hell to the enemy because 
backed by an invincible Navy (the citadel of the Military 



force). I don't desire to mention these expeditions and 
never will, as our military organisation is so damnably 
leaky ! but it so happens for two solid hours this morning 
I have been studying one of these of inestimable value 
only involving 5,000 men, and some guns, and horses 
about 500 — a mere fleabite ! but a collection of these 
fleabites would make Wilhelm scratch himself with fury ! 
However, the point of my letter is this — Ain't we d — d 
fools to go on wasting our very precious moments in 
these abstruse disquisitions on this line and that or the 
passage of the Dutch German Frontier River and whether 
the bloody fight is to be at Rheims or Amiens, until the 
Cabinet have decided the great big question raised in 
your E. 5 : Are we or are we not going to send a British 
Army to fight on the Continent as quite distinct and apart 
from Coastal Raids and seizures of Islands, etcetera, which 
the Navy dominate ? Had not the Prime Minister better 
get this fixed up before we have any more discussions 
such as foreshadowed to-morrow ? 

March 21st. 

... It won't do to resign on a hypothesis but on a 
fact ! All is in train for the 8 Dreadnoughts ! and as 
Grey says when the day is reached to sign the contracts 
and then a veto — then is the day to go in a great company 
and not one alone ! ... I am vehemently urged to squash 
my " malignant stabbers-in-the-back " by making a 
speech somewhere and saying as follows — but I won't — 
it would be an effectual cold douche to the 8 Dreadnoughts 
a year ! I might say 

" The unswerving intention of 4 years has now cul- 
minated in two complete Fleets in Home Waters, each 
of which is incomparably superior to the whole German 
Fleet mobilised for war. Don't take my word ! Count 
them, see them for yourselves ! You will see them next 
June. This can't alter for years, even were we supinely 



passive in our building ; but it won't alter because we 
will have 8 Dreadnoughts a year. So sleep quiet in your 
beds ! " 

And I might also add : — 

*' The Germans are not building in this feverish haste 
to fight you 1 No ! it's the daily dread they have of a 
second Copenhagen, which they know a Pitt or a Bis- 
marck would execute on them ! 

" Cease building or I strike ! " 


March 20th. 

. . . Grey rubbed in two great points yesterday : — 
(i) Lack of information as to German acceleration 

will be acted on as if acceleration were a fact, 
(ii) The S this year won't affect next year. 


June i$th. 

. . . Yes, we made a good job of Saturday ; but the 
two most noticeable things of all were never noticed : — 

(i) The swarm of Destroyers going 20 knots past the 
Dreadnought found themselves suddenly confronted by 
a lot of passenger steamers and yachts, which at the last 
moment got right in their way — the accidents might have 
been intense — but the young Destroyer commanders 
kept their nerve and their speed and scootled through 
the eye of the needle just grazing them all. It was 
splendid to see and made my heart warm ! (N.B. — A 
Press delegate — the Toronto Globe y I think, seized 
me by the arm and said, " Sir^ I see the glint of battle in 
your eye .' ") 

(ii) I saw the Speaker of the House of Commons being 
bundled into a " char-a-banc " holding 24 other pro- 
miscuous persons by a bluejacket. Truly a democratic 
sight ! 




July yd. 

. . . The latest development is that somebody has a pile 
of my private letters to various people — not printed or 
typewritten but the original letters, so he says, which he 
is going to produce unless I agree to resign in October ! 
Some of the letters stolen and some given (so I am told !). 
However " hot " they may be I don't regret a word I 
ever wrote, and I believe my countrymen will forgive me. 
Anyhow I won't be blackmailed ! There was murder in 
the King's eye when I told him (but I didn't tell him 
all !) ... 7 am going to fight to the finish ! Heaven bless 
you for your help. 

August yd. 

. . . The Mouse was able to help the Lion yesterday 
as the King got on to you in regard to vile attempts of 
jealousy as to your being on the Defence Committee. 
The King is certainly A i in sticking to his friends ! but 
you have always said this yourself to me when I have 
been down on my luck ! AH has gone most splendidly 
in all ways and the King is enormously gratified at the 
magnificent show of the Fleet to put before the Emperor 
of Russia. I told the Emperor it was a fine avenue ! — 
18 miles of ships — the most powerful in the world and 
none of them more than 10 years old ! 

August 2yth. 

[A letter on the Beresford Report speaks of two ** base 
innuendoes," of which the second is] 

(ii) The " suggest io falsi " that the Admiralty had been 
wanting in Strategical Thought — whereas we had effected 
the immense advance of establishing the Naval War 



College and gave evidence of practical strategy in effecting 
the concentration of our Fleets instead of the previous 
state of dispersion. No such redistribution of strategical 
force since the days of Noah ! 

But worse still — Not one word of commendation for 
the Admiralty for its unparalleled work in gaining fighting 
efficiency and instant readiness for war by the institution 
of the Nucleus Crew system — the introduction of Battle 
practice — the unexampled advance in Gunnery (the 
" Invincible " with her 12-inch guns hitting the target 
I /14th her own size 15 times out of iS at 5 miles, she 
herself going 20 knots and the target also moving at an 
unknown speed and unknown course) and getting rid of 
160 vessels that could neither fight nor run away — Not 
one word of appreciation of all this by the Committee I 
and yet they had the practical result before them in the 
manoeuvres of 374 vessels manoeuvring in fogs and shoals 
without a single mishap or a single defect and 96 Sub- 
marines and Torpedo Craft on the East Coast making 
Invasion ridiculous ! No — it has been a bitter disappoint- 
ment — more bitter because each of the five members of 
the Committee so expressive to me and to others of the 
complete victory of the Admiralty. Cowards all I It 
is the one redeeming feature that The Times came 
down decidedly on the right side of the fence ! the one 
and only paper that got at the kernel of the matter. 
Discipline ! where art thou now after this Report ? 

Sept. i^th. 

. . . What pleases me most is the King having sent 
for you, and your ij hours' breakfast and afterwards 
driving with him, because as no doubt you know, 

(and some others) started a propaganda against 

you which fell absolutely flat and it's a rattHng 
good thing the King making much of you in this way 
as it gets about and without any question the King now 
largely moulds the public will ! As to your letter in regard 


I • 

The Funeral of King Edward VII. 
Lord Fisher as Principal Aide-de-Camp. 


to myself, it of course gives me great joy that the King 
gives me his blessing and also dear Knollys's wonderful 
fidelity to me is a miracle ! (I always think of an incident 
long ago when he calmly ignored a furious effusion of 
mine to the King and put the letter in the fire without 
saying a word to me till long afterwards ! I all the time 
joyful — thinking I had done splendidly !) 

[After a forecast of a coming change in the Government 
the letter goes on] 

You will at once say : What is the First Sea Lord 
going to do ? Answer — Nothing ! It is the only course 
to follow ! I have thought it all out most carefully and 
decided to keep absolutely dumb. When a new Admiralty 
patent appears in the London Gazette without my name 
in it, I pack up and walk out and settle down in the 
Tyrol. Temperature 70° in the shade and figs ten a 
penny and wear out all my white tunics and white 
trowsers ! McKenna, to whom I am absolutely 
devoted, may force my hand to help him. In view of 
all he has risked for me (he was practically out of the 
Cabinet for 24 hours at one time ! This is a fact) I am 
ready to go to the stake for him ; but if he is well advised 
he also will be dumb. . . . I am so surprised how utterly 
both the Cabinet and the Press have failed to see the 
" inwardness " of the new " Pacific Fleet " ! I had a 
few momentous words in private with Sir Joseph Ward 
(the Prime Minister of New Zealand). He saw it I It 
means eventually Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the 
Cape (that is South Africa) and India running a complete 
Navy ! We manage the job in Europe. They'll manage 
the job ... as occasion requires out there ! The very 
wonderful thing is that only dear old Lord Kelvin and the 
First Sea Lord at the first wanted the Battle Cruiser 
type alone and not " Dreadnoughts " ; but we had a 
compromise, as you know, and got 3 Indomitables with 

193 o 


the Dreadnoughts ; and all the world now has got 
" Indomitables " on the brain ! Hip ! Hip ! Hurrah ! 

Dec. 2$th. 

. . . Wilson and 1 have talked a lot about our War 
plan for the Navy. You know he told the Defence Com- 
mittee that only he and I knew of the War Plan, which 
is quite true and it was the same when his fleet was joined 
with mine when South African War was in progress. 
He would sooner die than disclose it. (God bless Sir 
Arthur Wilson !) 

Jan. 2^rd, 

Of course no question as to strategic merits of a Canal, 
and it ought originally to have been the scheme instead 
of Rosyth, but now is it possible to make the zolte- 
face ? / fear not ! I got Rosyth delayed 4 years as 
NOT being the right thing or the right place and hoping 
for our Kiel Canal ; but though I succeeded in the delay, 
alas ! I did not in the substitution. However, I will see 
Hankey as you suggest. Yes, I'm quite happy, and my 
cry is NOT *' a Berlin ! " . . . I've got some war charts 
that would make your mouth water ! 

[Sir John Fisher left the Admiralty on his birthday, 
Jan. 25th, 1910, and was raised to the Peerage.] 


February 2nd. Thetford. 

... I've just got here from Cheshire, where for days 
running I've had Paradise. 3 lovely girls in the house, a 
splendid ball room and music always on hand ! 3 young 
Guardsmen there, but I held my own ! 

Dancing till 4 a.m. took it out of me a bit, but it 
revivified me and I renewed my strength like the Eagle ! 
... I hope the King talked politics with McKenna, 



who is very acute and would sacrifice himself for the 
King. Didn't you think McKenna excellent, the night 
he dined with me, as to the course the King should pur- 
sue ? You see he knows so exactly how the Cabinet 
will be actuated. . . . 

There are great risks. Both poUtical sides unscrupu- 
lous. ... 

P.S. — Wasn't it the Emperor Diocletian who doffed 
the Imperial Purple to plant cabbages ? and d — d fine 
cabbages, no doubt ! So don't blackguard me for leaving 
the Admiralty of my own free will, to plant roses ! 

Feb. iSih. 

. . . Things look ugly. . . . However, I'm a pure 
outsider ! There will be desperate efforts to sup- 
plant Wilson, so I hear from trustworthy quarters. 
But McKenna will be the real loss to the Navy. 
The sacred fire of efficiency burns brightly in him ! 
and he's a born fighter and a good hater, which I love 
(as Dr. Johnson did) with all my heart. You really 
must come here when the weather is nicer — it's lovely ! 
I've never known till now what joy there is in Nature. 
Even beauteous woman fades in the comparison ! I've 
just seen the wild swans flying over the Lake ! " The 
world forgetting — By the world forgot ! " is appropriate 
to me now ! ... I've just thought of a lovely Preamble 
for my approaching'* Midshipman's Vade-Mecum " . . . 
I rather think it's Blackie, though perhaps not his words : 

** Four Things for a Big Life 
I. A great Inspiration 
II. A great Cause 

III. A great Battle 

IV. A great Victory 

Having got those 4 things then you can preach the 
Gospel of Rest and Build an Altar to Repose." 

195 ^ 2 



March 14th. 

... I lunched with Asquith, he was more than cordial ! 
How funny it is that I did infinitely more for the Con- 
servatives than for the Radicals, and yet the Radicals 
have given me all I have got and the Conservatives have 
only given me abuse and calumny ! 

The Radicals gave me my Pension and a Peerage, 
and yet I increased the Radical estimates nearly ten 
millions ! I decreased the estimates 9 millions and 
reduced prospective charges by nineteen millions sterling 
for the Conservatives, and they never lifted even a little 
finger to help me, but on the contrary have heaped dung- 
hill abuse on me ! How do you explain this ? 

McKenna, whose life has been a burden on my account, 
gives me a thing that would do for an Ascot Gold Cup 
with the inscription I enclose — luckily it's in Latin or I 
dare not let it be seen ! (The Craven Scholar writes 
to me it's the best Latin he ever read in his life !) I 
wouldn't write all this to anyone else, but is it not all 
of it phenomenally curious ? Well, longo intervallo I took 
your advice and seized an opportunity which called for 
my communicating with Winston, and he sent me by 
return of post a most affectionate letter and says I am 
the one man in the world he really loves ! (Well ! I 
really love him because he's a great Fighter.) What a 
joke if you, I and George Clarke were put on to reform 
the House of Lords ! 

March 24th. 

I sent you a telegram from Ely on my way down (I 
caught my train by J a minute !) as my cogitations im- 
pelled me to suggest to you that Asquith obviously does 

not see the fallacy of 's reasoning, which as you very 

acutely observed would kill the Defence Committee as 
a whole in its guiding, but not its administrative or 
executive power, which are non-existent and inimical 



to its existence. But its " guiding " power is England's 
all-in-all, if only its sufficiency and efficiency could be 

I had an immense talk with McKenna. . . . He was 
'* dead on " for your Committee. Of course the Ideal 
was your being President, but I suppose the *' Shifting 
Man " as President, according to the subject and the 
Department concerned, has its merits and advantages. 

April 8th. 

Old Stead's letter in Standard on 2 keels to i is 
unsurpassable ! It ought to be circulated in millions as 
a leaflet ! . . . What d — d fools the Tories are not to 
swallow it whole — the 2 keels to i ! ... I told " the 
Islanders " secretly I could do more as the " mole," 
so not to put my name down — (The Mole is my metier ! 
only to be traced by upheavals !) Get Stead's letter 
sent all over the Nation as a leaflet. 

I am to meet you on April 19th, Suez Canal. 

I don't know Wilson's views. These are mine : — 

General principle : The Admiralty should never engage 
itself to lock up a single vessel even — not even a torpedo- 
boat, or submarine — anywhere on any consideration what- 
ever. The whole principle of Sea fighting is to be free to 
go anywhere with every d — d thing the Navy possesses. 
The Admiralty should engage to do their best but to 
reserve entire freedom of action. The responsibility of 
the Suez Canal therefore cannot be theirs. If this 
clashes with your views you had better cancel me on 
Committee, for I'll fight like Hell for the above vital 
War Principle ! 

April 2Sth. 

I congratulate you on the latest by *' Historicus " ; 
but do you sufficiently intensify the intolerable tyranny 



of the permanent Tory majority in the Lords that has 
meant a real single chamber government for so many 
years ? The Radicals are on the win and no one can 
stop it. We exaggerate the consequences. The silly 
thing is to have a General Election. Who gains ? Every- 
body loses ! Certainly the Tories won't win. Tariff 
Reform dead. Winston's last speeches have been very 
high class, especially where he shows how far greater 
issues are settled by the Government than anything 
appertaining to legislation without the House of Lords 
having a voice and we have always taken those risks in 
the past without a thought ! 

What is this about Kitchener hoisting out French as 
Inspector General ? Anything to get Kitchener out of 
England ! 

[King Edward VII. died on May 6th, 19 lo.] 


What an inexpressible sorrow ! . How we both know 
the loss ! What a great National Calamity ! And 
personally what can I say ? What a splendid and stead- 
fast friend ! No use saying any more to each other — is 
it } I really feel heart broken ! 


May 24th. KiLVERSTONE Hall. 

... I really can't get over the irreparable 
loss. / thijik of nothing else I Treves gave me a 
wonderful account of the King's last day. I rather 
think the King was coming to see me here, had he 
remained at Sandringham. The Queen [Queen Alexandra] 
has been very sweet to me. She stopped to notice me 
going up the steps of St. George's Chapel and so did her 
Sister [the Empress Marie]. I appreciated it very much 
— but most of all my interview with her. . . . She told 
me she would come here to see me and how the King 



had told her about me being disappointed at her not 
having been to Kilverstone before. You'll think me 
morbid writing like this. 

I dined with Asquith, McKenna and George Murray 
last week in London. If the Tories weren't such 
d_d stupid idiots I should rejoice at things being certain 
to go well. ... My day is past. I have no illusions. 
You will enjoy the roses I've planted when you come 
here. How one's life does change ! 

May 2'jth. 

. . . The Commonwealth Government [of Australia] 
have just sent a confidential telegram to Sir George Reid 
to ask me to go as their Guest to advise on the Navy. 
I've declined. I'd go as Dictator but not as Adviser. 
Also they have commenced all wrong and it would 
involve me in a campaign I intend to keep clear of with 
the soldiers. By the wording of the telegram I expect 
further pressure. Besides what a d— d fine thing to 
get me planted in the Antipodes ! [Kitchener and the 
Australians, in drawing up their scheme of defence, 
forgot that Australia was an island. So do we here m 

June yih. 

... I can't shake off my sense of loss in the King's 
death. Though personally it practically makes no differ- 
ence of course — yet I feel so curious a sense of isolation 
— which I can't get over — and no longer seem to care a 
d — n for anything ! . . . 

As you told me, it was miraculous I left the Admiralty 
when I did ! It was the nick of time ! A. K. Wilson 
is doing splendidly and is unassailable. I had much 
pressure to emerge the other day, but I won't, nor have 
I the heart now. 




August 5th. KiLVERSTONE HaLL. 

McKenna has just been here on his second visit (so 
he Hked the first, I suppose ! I mention this as an 
inducement to you to come !) He has shewn me various 
secret papers. He is a real fighter ^ and the Navy Haters 
will pass over his dead body ! If our late Blessed Master 
was alive I should know what to do ; but I feel my hands 
tied now. Perhaps a kindly Providence put us both on 
the Beach at the right moment ! Who knows ? 

" The lights begin to twinkle on the rocks " .' I've told 
and others that the 2 keels to i policy is of in- 
estimable value because it eliminates the United States 
Navy, which never ought to he mentioned — criminal folly 
to do so — Also it gives us such an ample margin as to 
allow for discount ! 

The insidious game is to have an enquiry into 
Ship Designs, which means delay and no money ! 

Two immense episodes are doing Damocles over the 
Navy just now. I had settled to shove my colleagues 
over the precipice about both of them, but as you know I 
left hurriedly to get in Wilson — so incomparably good ! 
We pushed them over the precipice about Water Tube 
Boilers, the Turbine, the Dreadnought, the Scrapping 
[of ships that could neither fight nor run away], the 
Nucleus Crews — the Redistribution of the Fleet, &c., &c. 
In each and all it was Athanasius contra mundum, 
but each and all a magnificent success ; so also these 
two waiting portents full of immense developments. 

I. Oil Engines and internal combustion, about which 
I so dilated at our dinner and bored you. Since that 
night (July nth) Bloom & Voss in Germany have received 
an order to build a Motor Liner for the Atlantic Trade. 
No engineers, no stokers, and no funnels, no boilers ! Only 
a d — d chauffeur ! The economy prodigious ! as the 
Germans say " Kolossal billig " ! But what will it be 
for War ? Why ! all the past pales before the prospect ! ! I 



I say to McKenna : ** Shove 'em over the precipice ! 
Shove ! " But he's all alone, poor devil ! 

The Second is that this Democratic Country won't 
stand 99 per cent, at least of her Naval Officers being 
drawn from the " Upper Ten." It's amazing to me that 
anyone should persuade himself that an aristocratic 
Service can be maintained in a Democratic State. The 
true democratic principle is Napoleon's : '* La carrier e 
ouverte aux talents ! " The Democracy will shortly 
realise this, and there will be a dangerous and mischievous 
agitation. The secret of successful administration is the 
intelligent anticipation of agitation. Again I say to 
McKenna ** Shove ! II " Shove them over the preci- 
pice ^ I have the plan all cut and dried. 

The pressure won't come from inside the Navy but 
from outside — an avalanche like a.d. 1788 (the French 
Revolution) — and will sweep away a lot more than 
desirable ! It is essentially a political question rather 
than a Naval question proper. It is all so easy, only 
the d — d Tory prejudices stand in the way ! But I 
gave you a paper about all this printed at Portsmouth, 
so won't bore you with more. I am greatly inclined to 
leave the Defence Committee and move out in the open 
on these two vital questions on the Navy. The one 
affects its fighting efficiency as much as the other. I 
am doing the mole, and certain upheavals will appear 
shortly, but it wants a Leader in the open ! 

May 1st. 

... I want you to think over getting the Prime 
Minister to originate an enquiry for a great British 
Governmental Wireless Monopoly, or rather I would say 
" English Speaking " Monopoly ! No one at the 
Admiralty or elsewhere has as yet any the least idea of 
the immense revolution both for Peace and War purposes 
which will be brought about by the future development 
of wireless! . . . The point is that this scheme wants to be 



engineered by the Biggest Boss, i.e. the Prime Minister. 
. . . Believe me the wireless in the future is the soul and 
spirit of Peace and War, and therefore must be in the 
hands of the Committee of Defence ! Yoii can't cut 
the air I You can cut a telegraph cable ! 


June 2^th. ^ Bad Nauheim. 

. . . You will see in the Standard of May 29th the 
London Correspondent of the Irish Times lets out 
about Lord Fisher and war arrangements, but as the 
Standard in the very same issue makes this announce- 
ment in big type : " We (Great Britain) are in the satis- 
factory position of having twice as maiiy Dreadnoughts 
in commission as Germany and a number greater by one 
unit than the whole of the rest of the world put together ! " 
I don't think there is the very faintest fear of war ! How 
wonderfully Providence guides England ! Just when 
there is a quite natural tendency to ease down our Naval 
endeavours comes Agadir ! 

" Time and the Ocean and some Guiding Star 
In High Cabal have made us what we are ! " 

" The Greatest Power on ' Airth,' " as Mr. Champ 
Clarke would say ! (You ought to meet Champ Clarke.) 
He is likely to succeed Taft as President, but I put my 
money on Woodrow Wilson. He is Bismarck and Moltke 
rolled into one ! . . . I need not say that I remain in 
the closest bonds with the Admiralty. I never did a 
wiser thing than coming abroad and remaining abroad 
and working like a mole. / shall ?iot return till July, 19 12. 
Most damnable efforts against me continue in full swing : 
nevertheless like Gideon — ** Faint yet pursuing " is my 
motto. . . . And yet because in 1909 at the Guildhall 
when our Naval supremacy had been arranged for in 
the Navy Estimates of the year I said to my countrymen 
** Sleep quiet in your beds ! " I was vehemently vilified 
with malignant truculence, and only yesterday I got a 



letter from an Aristocrat of the Aristocrats, saying he had 
heard it stated by a Man of Eminence the day before 
that I was in the pay of Germany ! It is curious that I 
can't get over the personal great blank I feel in the death 
of our late blessed Friend King Edward ! There was 
something in the charm of his heart that still chains one 
to his memory — some magnetic touch ! 


Sept 20th. Lucerne. 

Through dancing with a sweet American (and indeed 
they are truly delightful, especially if you have the same 
partner all the evening!) I hear via a Bremen multi-million- 
aire that though the most optimistic official assurances of 
peace emanate from Berlin yet there is the most extreme 
nervousness amongst the German business men because 
of the revelation to them of the French power both 
financially and fightingly, so unexpected by them. I 
suppose if a Pitt or a Palmerston had now been guiding 
our destinies we should have war. They would say any 
Peace would be a bad Peace because of the latent damnable 
feeling in Germany against England. It won't be France 
any more, it will be England that will be the red rag for 
the German Bull ! And as we never were so strong as 
at present, then Pitt & Co. would say the present is the 
time to fight. Personally I am confident of Peace. I 
happen to know in a curious way (but quite certainly) 
that the Germans are in a blue funk of the British Navy 
and are quite assured that 942 German merchant steamers 
would be *' gobbled up " in the first 48 hours of war, 
and also the d — 'd uncertainty of whe7i and zvhere a hundred 
thousand troops embarked in transports and kept " in 
the air " might land ! N.B. — There's a lovely spot only 
90 miles from Berlin ! Anyhow they would demobilize 
about a million German soldiers ! But I am getting 
" off the line " now ! I really sat down to write and tell 
you of a two days' visit paid to me here by the new 



American Ambassador to Berlin. He is a faithful friend. 
He is very^ very pro- English (he has such a lovely daughter 
whom I have been dancing with, a perfect gem ! if she 
don't turn Wilhelm's head I'll eat my hat !). My friend 
was American Ambassador at Constantinople when I was 
Commander-in-Chief of the Mediterranean Fleet — ^you 
know it was a ticklish time then, at the worst of the Boer 
War and the British Navy kept the Peace ! That old 
Sultan [Abdul Hamid] told me so, and gave me a 
500-guinea diamond star, bless him ! and he called Lord 
Salisbury a d — d fool for having left him in the lurch 
and for having said that '* England had put her money 
on the wrong horse " in backing Turkey. The Turks 
being the one people in the whole world to be England's 
fast (and if put to it) only friend ! Well, my dear Friend ! 
Leishman saw this then in 1899, and sees it now^ and hence 
we were locked up for hours in a secret room here ! It 
all bears immensely on the present Franco- German 
Crisis ! That " greater-than-Bismarck " who is now 
German Ambassador at Constantinople (Marschall von 
Bieberstein), and who is the real director of German 
policy (Waechter is only his factotum ! as I will prove 
to you presently !) sees his rear and flanks quite safe by 
having the Turks in the palm of his hand (as Leishman 
describes it !) and so has been led to bluflF at Agadir — 
but those choice words of Lloyd George upset the German 
apple-cart in a way it was never upset before ! (I 
suppose they were " written out " words and Cabinet 
words, and they were d — d fine words !) Before I go on 
with the next bit of my letter I must explain to you that 
Leishman is a very great friend and admirer of Marschall 
von Bieberstein and also of Kiderlen- Waechter, the 
present German Foreign Minister. When Marschall 
went on his annual 4 months' leave from Constantinople 
he always had Waechter to take his place while away, 
who was then the German Minister at Bucharest ! 
Leishman is also an ardent admirer of the German 



Emperor, and he is also the most intimate friend possessed 
by Mr. Philander Knox, the American Secretary of State, 
who has forced Leishman to Berlin when he was in 
Paradise at Rome (at all events his family were !) Well ! 
dear Friend, it's a good thing that Leishman loves 
England. I couldn't possibly write to Sir E. Grey 
what I am writing to you (I shouldn't write to you except 
that this letter goes through France only !) and it would 
be simply fatal to Leishman if it ever leaked out about his 
conversations with me, but his heart is with us. I knew 
this when I spent many weeks at Constantinople (and we 
had no friends then, 1899 and 1900 !). He says our 
Turkish policy is the laughing stock of Diplomacy I * ' Every 
schoolboy knows " that we have a Mahomedan Existence 

and the Turks love us, but all we do is to kick their ! 

As Leishman truly says, the Germans were in the dust 
by the deposition of Abdul Hamid and England was 
" all " to the New Turks, but slowly Marschall has worked 
his way up again, and the Germans again possess the 
Turks, instead of England. The Turkish Army, the 
very finest fighting army in the world, was ours for the 
asking, and " Peace— perfect Peace " in India, Egypt and 
Persia ; but we've chucked it all away because we have 
had d — d fools as our Ambassadors ! But how can it 
be otherwise unless you put in men from outside, like 
for instance Bryce at Washington ? Our strength is 
Mahomedan, but we are too d — d Christian to see it ! 
and fool about Armenian atrocities and Bulgarian horrors ! 
Tories and Radicals are both the same. Isn't it wonderful 
how we get along ! I repeat again to you my copyright 
lines : — 

" Time and the Ocean and some Guiding Star 
In High Cabal have made us what we are ! " 

Look at Delagoa Bay, that might have been ours— 
indeed was ours only we '* fooled " it away ! Look at 
Lord Granville and the Cameroons ! Well ! I haven't 
given Leishman away, I don't think ! The real German 



bonne boiiche was the complete belt across Africa, 
but this only if the right of pre-emption as regards the 
Belgian Congo could have been acquired. I simply 
tremble at the consequences if the British Redcoats are 
to be planted on the Vosges Frontier [meaning the dread 
of Conscription and a huge Army for Continental War- 


October 10th. Lucerne. 

... I yesterday had a long letter from McKenna 
begging me to return and '* put the gloves on again," and 
in view of his arguments I am going to do so when 
A. K. Wilson vanishes early next year ! It is, however, 
distasteful to me. I've had a lovely time here. 


October 2gth, Reigate Priory, Surrey. 

... I am here 3 days with Winston and many of the 
Cabinet. I got a very urgent letter to come here, and I 
think my advice has been fully and completely digested, 
but don't say a word, please, to a soul ! I am returning 
direct to Lucerne on Wednesday, after Tuesday at 


November gth. Lucerne. 

These are very ticklish times indeed ! I have got to 
be extremely careful. I must not get between Winston 
and A. K. W. in any way — it would not only be very 
wrong but fatal to any smooth working. So I begged 
Winston not to write to me. With extreme reluctance 
I went to Reigate as I did, but McKenna urged me on 
the grounds of the good of the Navy, and from what 
Winston has since said to a friend of mine I think I did 
right in going. 




December. Lucerne. 

... I shouldn't have written again so soon except for 
just now seeing in a Paris paper that Sir John French, 
accompanied by four Officers, had landed at Calais en 
route to the French Head Quarters, and expatiating on 
the evident intention of joint military action ! Do you 
remember the classic interview we had with the late 
King in his Cabin ? If this is on the tapis again then we 
have another deep regret for the loss of that sagacious 
intuition ! King Edward may not have been clever, but 
he never failed in his judgment on whose opinion to 
rely. ... Of course there may be nothing in it ! Nor 
do I think there is the least likelihood of war. 
England is far too strong ! Yet I daily get letters 
anticipating my early return. . . . 

I enclose you a letter from , received a little time 

ago. He is a very eminent Civil Engineer. There is a 
" dead set " being made to get the Midshipmen under 

the new scheme to rebel against " engineering " ! , 

& Co. are persistently at it through their friends 

in the Fleet, and calling those Midshipmen who go in 
for engineering — " Greasers." The inevitable result of 
the present young officers of the Navy disparaging and 
slighting this chief necessary qualification of engineering 
in these engineering days will be to force the throwing 
open of entry as officers in the Navy to all classes of the 
population and adopting State paid Education and sup- 
port till the pay is sufficient to support ! 


December 24th. 

... I have had a hectic time with four hurricanes 
crossing the Channel and balancing on the tight-rope 
with one end held by Winston and the other by McKenna, 
but they both held tight and I am all right. Without 
doubt McKenna is a patriot to have encouraged ME to 
help Winston as he has done ! I have not heard what 



the War Staff is doing. It does not trouble me. My 
sole object was to ensure Jellicoe being Commander-in- 
Chief of the Home Fleet on December 19th, 19 13, and that 
is being done by his being appointed Second-in-Command 
of the Home Fleet, and he will automatically be C.-in-C. 
in two years from that date. All the recent changes 
revolved round Jellicoe, and No one sees it ! 


Jan. yd. Naples. 

... I fully agree with you about the Navy want of 
first-class Intellects. Concentration and Discipline com- 
bine to cramp the Sea Officer. . . . Great views don't 
get grasped. Winston urges me to come back, but he 
forgets the greatest of all the great Napoleonic sayings : 
^^ J^ordonne, ou je me tats.*' Besides, you see, I was the 
First Violin. However, Winston is splendidly receptive. 
I can't possibly write what has happened, but he is a 
brave man. And as 16 Admirals have been scrapped I 
am more popular than ever ! ! ! A lovely woman two 
days ago sent me this riddle : " Why are you like 
Holland ? " " Because you lie low and are dammed all 
round." But there it is. Jellicoe will be Admiralissimo 
when Armageddon comes along, and everything that was 
done revolved round that, and no one has seen it. He has 
all the attributes of Nelson, and his age. 


March yth. Naples. 

You nearly saw me to-day, as a King's Messenger 
roused me out the day before yesterday with papers I 
really thought I could not cope with by letter ; but as 
obviously the object was to avoid the gossip my appearance 
in London would cause I did my best with my pen. But 
I see clearly I am in the middle of the whirlpool again 
and must force what I feel a great disinclination for and 
participate once more in the fight. I have had strangely 
intimate opportunities of learning the very inside of 


!. IJ 

[/>y khitl />cyiiiission p/ " The Daily Express.' 

The Anniversary of Trafalgar. 

Nelson [in Trafalgar Square) : — "I was on my wav down to lend 

them a hand myself, but if Jacky Fisher's taking on the job there's 

no need for me to be nervous, I'll get back on my pedestal." 

Nelson looking up Sir John Fisher on his first day as First Sea 
Lord, Trafalgar Day, 1904. 


German feeling towards England. It is Utterly intense 
and widespread. Without any doubt whatever the 
Germans thought they were going to squeeze France out 
of Morocco. You can take that as a fact, no matter what 
lies are told by the German Foreign Minister ; and 
Clemenceau's unpublished speech would have proved it. 
but he said enough. And how treacherous to England 
was M. Caillaux. — What a dirty business ! Anyhow, as 
a German Admiral of high repute wrote confidentially 
and privately a few days since : " German public opinion 
is roused in a way I had not before thought possible." 
And as far as I can make out, the very worst possible 
thing was Haldane's visit — a British Cabinet Minister 
crawling up the back stairs of the German Foreign Office 
in carpet slippers ! and judging from all that is told me, 
it has made the Germans worse than ever, and for a 
variety of quite opposite reasons, all producing the same 
result. Any more Heligolands would mean certain war. 
It's very peculiar how we have left our impregnable 
position we occupied before Haldane's visit, to take up 
a most humiliating, weak and dangerous one. 

April 2nd. 

. . . Asyousay, Winston has done Splendidly. He and 
I last November discussed every brick of his speech in 
Devonport Dockyard while visiting the 33-knot Lion- 
Dreadnought by night alone together, and don't accuse 
me of too much egotism, but he stopped dramatically on 
the Dockyard stones and said to me " You're a Great 
Man ! " . . . We are lagging behind in out-Dread- 
noughting the Dreadnought ! A plunge of course — a 
huge plunge — but so was the Dreadnought — so was the 
Turbine — so was the water-tube boiler, and last of all 
so was the i3|-inch gun which now holds the field, and 
the whole Board of Admiralty (bar Jellicoe) and all the 
experts dead against it — but we plunged ! So it is now 

209 p 


— we want more speed — less armour — a 15-inch gun — 
more sub-division — oil only — and chauffeurs instead of 
Engineers and Stokers, and a Dreadnought that will go 
round the world without requiring to replenish fuel ! 
The Non-Pareil ! Winston says he'll call her the 
" Fisher ! " / owe more than I can say to McKenna. 
I owe nearly as much to Winston for scrapping a dozen 
Admirals on December 5th last so as to get Jellicoe 2nd in 
Command of the Home Fleet. If war comes before 1914, 
then Jellicoe will be Nelson at the Battle of St. Vincent : 
if it comes in 19 14 then he'll be Nelson at Trafalgar ! . . . 

Again, I've had quite affectionate letters from three 
important Admirals. Why should I come home and 
filch their credit } All this is to explain to you why I 
keep abroad, as you ask me what are my future plans. 
Your letter in The Times on the German Book quite 
excellent. Bernstorff's book is even more popular in 
Germany : '* The War Between England and Germany " 
— with the picture of the " Dreadnought " with all her 
guns trained for action ! Ever^^ little petty German 
newspaper is dead-on for war with England ! that I can 
assure you of ! So anything would kindle a war ! . . . 
The banner unfurled on October 21st, 1904, by the d — d 
scoundrel who on that dav became First Sea Lord had 
inscribed on it : 

" The fighting efficiency of the Fleet " 

" Its instant readiness for War." 

and, as Winston bravely said, that is now the case and 
no credit to himself, but he ought to have gone further 
back than McKenna for the credit. It was Balfour I 
He saw me through — no one else would allow 160 ships 
to be scrapped, &c., &c., &c. But you've had enough ! 

April 25th. 

. . . When I was a Delegate at the Hague Conference 



of 1899 — the first Conference — I had very animated 
conversations, which, however, to my lasting regret it 
was deemed inexpedient to place on record (on account 
of their violence, I believe I), regarding ** Trading with 
the Enemy." I stated the primordial fact that " The 
Essence of War is Violence ; Moderation in War is 
Imbecility y And then in my remarks I went on to 
observe, as is stated by Mr. Norman Angell in the 
** Great Illusion," where he holds me up as a Terror ! 
and as misguided — ^perhaps I went a little too far when I 
said I would boil the prisoners in oil and murder the 
innocent in cold blood, &c., &c., &c. . . . but it's quite 
silly not to make War damnable to the whole mass of 
your enemy's population, which of course is the secret 
of maintaining the right of Capture of Private Property 
at Sea. As you say, it must be proclaimed in the most 
public and most authoritative manner that direct and 
indirect trade between Great Britain, including every 
part of the British Empire, and Germany must cease in 
time of war. . . . When war does come ** Might is 
Right ! " and the Admiralty will know what to do ! 
Nevertheless, it is a most serious drawback not making 
public to the world beforehand what we mean by War ! 
It is astounding how even very great men don't under- 
stand War ! You must go to the Foreigner to appreciate 
our Surpassing Predominance as a Nation. I was 
closeted for two hours lately — in a locked room — with 
a great Foreign Ambassador, who quoted great names to 
me as being in agreement with him that never in the 
History of the World was the British Nation (as at the 
present moment) surpassed in power ! And therefore we 
could do what we liked ! . . . I fully agree with you 
that the schemes of the General Staif of the British Army 
are grotesque. Their projects last August, had we gone 
to war, were wild in the extreme. You will remember a 
famous interview we two had with King Edward in his 
Cabin on board the Royal Yacht — how he stamped on 

211 p 2 


the idea (that then enthused the War Office mind) of 
England once more engaged in a great Continental War ! 
" Marlboroughs Cheap To-day ! " was the kettle of 
fish advertised by the Militarists ! 

I walked the sands of Scheveningen with General 
Gross von Schwartzhoff in June, 1899. The German 
Emperor said he (Schwartzhoff) was a greater than Moltke. 
He was the Military German Delegate at the Hague 
Conference ; he was designated as Chief of the General 
Staff at Berlin, but he was burnt to death in China 
instead. I had done him a very good turn indeed, so he 
opened his heart to me. There was no German Navy 
then. We were doing Fashoda ; and he expatiated on 
the role of the British Army — how the absolute supremacy 
of the British Navy gave it such inordinate power far 
beyond its numerical strength, because 200,000 men 
embarked in transports, and God only knowing where 
they might be put ashore, was a weapon of enormous 
influence, and capable of deadly blows — occupying 
perhaps Antwerp, Flushing, &c. (but, of course, he only 
was thinking of the Cotentin Peninsula), or landing 
90 miles from Berlin on that 14 miles of sandy beach 
[in Pomerania], impossible of defence against a battle 
fleet sweeping with devastating shells the flat country 
for miles, like a mower's scythe — no fortifications able to 
withstand projectiles of 1,450 lb. 

Yes ! you are so right ! the average man is incapable 
of a wide survey ! he looks through a pinhole and only 
sees just a little bit much magnified ! Napoleon and 
Cromwell ! Where are they ? 


April 2gth. Naples. 

. . . You say to me — *' Come home ! " — ^you remind 
me of ''personal influence,*' I know it! Three days 
ago I was invited to name one of three week-ends in 
June to meet two very great men at a country house— no 
one else. Day before yesterday Winston Churchill 



asks me. Hardly a week passes without such similar 
pressure from most influential quarters — " Why don't I 
come home and smash and pulverize ? " Of course, they 
one and all exaggerate — that in ten minutes I could 
" sweep the board " and so on ! I know exactly what I 
can do. I've been fighting 50 years ! But I don't want 
a personal victory ! 

... I am going to take my body and what little money 
I have ... to the United States in the near future. It 
would be no use my coming home. The mischief is 
done ! . . . From patriotic motives IVe given Winston 
of my very best in the replies going to him this day from 
Brindisi by King's Messenger, as regards designs and 
policy and fighting measures. 

May iSth, 

. . . Well ! as you say, every blessed thing at Weymouth 
[the Fleet Inspection] absolutely dates from 1909, except 
the aviation, and even that I pressed to its present condi- 
tion dead against great opposition, but I wrote so strongly 

that took the bit between his teeth on that subject ! 

And you ask me the question " How goes it for the 
future ! " 

Well ! Lloyd George is the real man, and so far judging 
from his most intimate conversation with me, all is 
well I ... A propos of all this I've been specially 
invited to meet four people of importance at a week-end 
meeting — no others. I was asked twice before — and 
again now repeated ; but I think it best to abstain. I 
think you will approve of my not going. I have declined 
to go with W. C. in the Admiralty Yacht. 


May igth. Naples. 

I have a letter from W. C. this morning that he and 
the Prime Minister have decided to come direct here to 



Naples to spend a few days, and a telegram has just 
come saying they arrive on May 23rd .... I suppose the 
coming Supplementary Estimates and also types of new 
ships about which I am in deadly antagonism with every 
living soul at the Admiralty, and one of the consequences 
has been that a great Admiralty official has got the 
boot ! ! ! So Winston is right when he writes to me 
this morning that in all vital points I have had my way ! 
He adds : " The Future of the Navy rests in the hands of 
men in whom your confidence is as strong as mine . . . 
and no change of Government would carry with it any 
change of policy in this respect." 


June soth. Thetford. 

My plot is working exactly as forecast. By and by 
you'll say it's the best thing I ever did. The Prime 
Minister and Winston would not listen at Naples to my 
urgent cry " Increase your margin ! " They have got 
to recruit without stint and build 8 " Mastodons " 
instead of 4. Wait and see ! 

The recruiting HAS begun. The 8 will follow. 

We want 8 
We won't wait. 

No other course but that now in progress would have 
done it. I don't mind personal obloquy, but it's a bit 
hard to undergo my friends' doubts of me ; but the 
clouds will roll by. . . . I've got all rny " working bees " 
round me here of the Royal Commission [on Oil and the 
Internal Combustion engine] . We shall stagger humanity ! 


July 6th. Kilverstone Hall. 

. . . Really all my thoughts are with my Royal Com- 
mission. I expect you will see that the course of action 



will inevitably result in what I ventured to indicate if 
only the Admiralty will keep their backs to the wall of 
the irreducible margin required in Home Waters. The 

only pity was that dear old said we were sufficiently 

strong for two years or more, which of course is quite 
true, but his saying so may prevent Lloyd George being 
hustled {as he otherwise would have been). Luckily I 

prevented saying even more of our present great 

preponderance — but let us hope " All's well that ends 
well." Ian Hamilton came in most effectively with his 
witnessing the armoured Cruiser " Suffolk " laden with a 
Battalion of the Malta Garrison being twice torpedoed 
by a submarine. 

July 15/A. 

. . . This instant the news has come to me that there 
are 750 eligible and selected candidates for 60 vacancies 
for Boy- Artificers in the Navy at the approaching examina- 
tion ! When I introduced this scheme 8 years ago every 
man's hand was against me, and the whole weight of 
Trades Unionism inside the House of Commons and out 
of it was organised against me. . . . We were dominated by 
the Engineers ! We had to accept Engine Room artificers 
for the Navy who had been brought up on making 
bicycles ! NoWy these boys are suckled on the marine 
engine ! and they have knocked out the old lot com- 
pletely. Our very best Engine Room artificers now in 
the Navy are these boys ! Not one of my colleagues or 
anyone else supported me ! Do you wonder that I don't 
care a d—n what anyone says ? The man you are going 
to see on Wednesday — how has he recognised that we 
are at this moment stronger than the Triple Alliance ? 
The leaders of both political parties— how have they 
recognised that 19 millions sterling of public money 
actually allocated was saved and the re-arrangement of 
British Sea Power so stealthily carried out that not a 



sign appeared of any remark by either our own or by 
any Foreign Diplomatists, until an obscure article in 
the Scientific American by Admiral Mahan stated that 
of a sudden he (Mahan) had discovered that 88 per 
cent, of the Sea Power of England was concentrated 
on Germany ? But the most ludicrous thing of all 
is that up to this very moment no one has really 
recognised that the Dreadnought caused such a 
deepening and dredging of German harbours and 
their approaches, and a new Kiel Canal, as to cripple 
Germany up to a.d. 191 5, and make their coasts 
accessible, which were previously denied to our ships 
because of their heavy draught for service in all the 
world ! 

August 2nd. 

At the Defence Committee yesterday ... we had a 
regular set-to with Lloyd George (supported by Harcourt 
and Morley chiefly) against the provision of defence for 
Cromarty as a shelter anchorage for the Fleet, and the 
Prime Minister adjourned the discussion to the Cabinet 
as the temperature got hot ! As you know, I've always 
been " dead on " for Cromarty and hated Rosyth, which 
is an unsafe anchorage — ^the whole Fleet in jeopardy 
the other day— and there's that beastly bridge which, if 
blown up, makes the egress very risky without examina- 
tion. . . . Also Cromarty is strategically better than 
Rosyth. . . . Also Lloyd George had a row about the 
airships — Seely's Sub-Committee. We must have air- 


August yth. 

I still hate Rosyth and fortifications and East Coast 
Docks and said so the other day ! but what we devise at 



Cromarty is for another purpose — to fend off German 
Cruisers possibly by an accident of fog or stupidity 
getting loose on our small craft taking their ease or 
re-fuelling in Cromarty (Oil will change all this in time, 
but as yet we have for years coal-fed vessels to deal 
with). ... I've got enthusiastic colleagues on the oil 
business ! They're all bitten ! Internal Combustion 
Engine Rabies ! 


, . . What an ass I was to come home ! but it was next 
door to impossible to resist the pressure put on me, 
and then can you think it was wise of me to plunge once 
more into so vast a business as future motor Battleships ? 
Changing the face of the Navy, and, as Lloyd George 
said to me last Friday, getting the Coal of England as my 
mortal enemy ! 


Sept. 14th. 

This Royal Commission [on oil] is a wonder ! We have 
our first meeting on September 24th, and practically it is 
finished though it will go on for years and years and 
never submit a Report ! You will love the modus 
operandi when some day I expound it to you ! ... In 
the second week of December we have an illustration on 
the scale of 12 inches to a foot of producing oil from coal. 
Twenty-five tons a day will be produced as an example. 
All that is required is to treble the retorting jjlant of all 
gas works in the United Kingdom where there is a Mayor 
and Corporation, and to treble their " through put " of 
coal ! We get two million tons of oil that way ! We 
only want one million. 

I addressed the Directors of the S.E. & Chatham Rail- 
way last Tuesday, and hope I persuaded them to build a 



motor vessel of 24 knots between Calais and Dover, 
and proved to them they could save an hour between 
Paris and London — the whole side of the vessel falls down 
and makes a gangway on to a huge pontoon at Calais 
and Dover and all the passengers march straight out 
(** Every man straight before him," like the Israelites did 
at Jericho, and the walls fell down before them !) No 
more climbing up Mont Blanc up a narrow precipitous 
gangway from the steamer to the jetty in the rain, and an 
old woman blocking you with her parcels and umbrella 
jammed by the stanchions, and they ask her for her 
ticket and she don't know which pocket it's in ! and the 
rain going down your neck all the time ! A glass roof 
goes over the motor vessel — she has no funnels, and her 
telescopic wireless masts wind down by a 2 h.p. motor 
so as not to go through the glass roof. But all this is 
nothing to H.M.S. " Incomparable " — a 25 knot battleship 
that will go round the whole earth without refuelling ! . . . 
The plans of her will be finished next Monday, and I 
wrote last night to say I proposed in my capacity as a 
private British Citizen to go over in three weeks' time 
in the White Star " Adriatic " to get Borden [the Canadian 
Prime Minister] to build her at Quebec. The Building Yard 
put up there by Vickers is under a guarantee to build 
a Dreadnought in Canada in May and the great Dread- 
nought Dock left Barrow for Quebec on August 31st. 
No English Government would ever make this plunge, 
which is why I propose going to Canada — to that great 
man, Borden— and take the Vickers people to make their 
bargain for building. 

Sept. 20th. 

. . . My idea now is to raise a syndicate to build the 
*' Non-Pareil " ! A few millionaires would suffice, and I 
know sufficient of them to do it. All the drawings and 
designs quite ready. The one all pervading, all absorbing 



thought is to get in first with motor ships before the 
Germans I Owing to our apathy during the last two years 
they are ahead with internal combustion engines ! They 
have killed 15 men in experiments with oil engines and we 
have not killed one ! And a d — d fool of an English 
politician told me the other day that he thinks this credit- 
able to us ! 

Without any doubt (I have it from an eye-witness of 
part of the machinery for her at Nuremberg) a big 
German oil engine Cruiser is under weigh ! We must 
press forward. . . . These d — ^d politics are barring the 
way. ..." What ! " (say these trembling idiots) 
'* Another Dreadnought Revolution ! " and these boneless 
fools chatter with fear like apes when they see an elephant I 
The imagination cannot picture that ^^ a greater than the 
Dreadnought is here ! " Imagine a silhouette presenting 
a target 33 per cent, less than any living or projected 
Battleship ! No funnels — no masts — no smoke — she 
carries over 5,000 tons of oil, enough to take her round 
the world without refuelling ! Imagine what that means ! 
Ten motor boats carried on board in an armoured pit 
in the middle of her, where the funnels and the boilers 
used to be. Two of these motor boats are over 60 feet 
long and go 45 knots ! and carry 21 -inch Torpedoes that 
go five miles ! Imagine these let loose in a sea fight 1^ 
Imagine projectiles far over a ton weight ! going over a 
mile or more further than even the i3j-inch gun can 
carry, and that gun has rightly staggered humanity ! — 
Yes ! that i3j-inch gun that all my colleagues (bar one ! 
and he is our future Nelson ! [Jellicoe]) thought me mad 
to force through against unanimous disapproval ! and 
see where we are now in consequence ! We shall have 
16 British Dreadnoughts with the i3j-inch gun 
before the Germans have one ! ! ! So it will be with 
the " Non-Pareil " ! WE HAVE GOT TO HAVE HER 

' N.B. — These very motor boats here described sank two battleships 
of the Bolshevists only the other day. See Chapter IV. — F. 21/9/ig. 



. . . Fve worked harder over this job than in all my life 
before !^ 

Dec, 2gth. 

... I'm getting sick of England and want to get back 
to Naples and the sun ! and the " dolce far niente ! " 
What fools we all are to work like we do ! Till we drop ! 

- Then after this came the i^-inchgun ; then the iS-inch 
gun J actually used at sea in the War ; and then the 20-inch 
giuiy ready to be built and go into the " Incomparable " of 
40,000 tons and 40 knots speedy on May 22nd y 19 15 
— F. 21/9/19. 




My very best friends are Americans. I was the 
Admiral in North America, and saw " American 
Beauties " at Bermuda. (Those American roses and 
the American women are equal !) And without question 
they are the very best dancers in the world ! (I suppose 
it's from so much skating !) My only son married an 
American lady (which rejoiced me), and an American 
gentleman on the steamer complimented me that she had 
come over and vanquished him instead of his going, as 
the usual way is, to America to capture her ! I had 
such a time in America when I went over to the wedding ! 
I never can forget the hospitality so boundless and 
sincere ! I really might have spent three years in America 
(so I calculated) in paying visits earnestly desired. The 
Reporters (25 of them) asked me when I left what I 
thought of their country (I tried to dodge them, but 
found them all in my cabin when I went on board !) I 
summed it up in the one word I greatly admire — 
*' HUSTLE ! " and I got an adhesive label in America 



which I also loved ! Great Black Block letters on a 
crimson ground— 


You stick it on a letter or the back of a slow fool. Mr. 
McCrea, the President of the Pennsylvania Railway, had 
his private car to take me to Philadelphia from New 
York. We went 90 miles in 90 minutes, and such a 
dinner ! Two black gentlemen did it all. And I found 
my luggage in my room when I arrived labelled : 


(How it got there so quick I can't imagine.) I was bombed 
by a photographer as we arrived late at night, and an 
excellent photograph he took, but it gave me a shock ! 
I had never been done like that ! I had the great pleasure 
of dining with Mr. Woodrow Wilson. I predicted to the 
reporters he would be the next President for sure ! I was 
told I was about the first to say so — anyhow, the 25 
reporters put it down as my news ! 

I met several great Americans during my visit ; but 
the loveliest meeting I ever had was when, long 
before, a charming company of American gentlemen 
came on July 4th to Admiralty House at Bermuda 
to celebrate " Independence Day ! " I got my speech 



in before theirs ! I said George Washington was 
the greatest Englishman who ever lived ! England 
had never been so prosperous, thanks solely to him, 
as since his time and now I because he taught us 
how to associate with our fellow countrymen when they 
went abroad and set up house for themselves ! And 
that George Washington was the precursor of that 
magnificent conception of John Bright in his speech of 
the ages when he foretold a great Commonwealth — yes 
a great Federation — of all those speaking the same tongue 
— that tongue which is the " business " tongue of the 
world — as it expresses in fewer words than any other 
language what one desires to convey ! And I suppose 
now we have got Palestine that this Federal House of 
Commons of the future will meet at Jerusalem, the 
capital of the lost Ten Tribes of Israel, whom we are 
without doubt, for how otherwise could ever we have so 
prospered when we have had such idiots to guide us and 
rule us as those who gave up Heligoland, Tangier, 
Cura^oa, Corfu, Delagoa Bay, Java, Sumatra, Minorca, 
etc., etc. ? I have been at all the places named, so am 
able to state from personal knowledge that only con- 
genital idiots could have been guilty of such inconceivable 
folly as the surrender of them, and again I say : " Let 
us thank God that we are the lost ten tribes of Israel ! " 
Mr. Lloyd George, in a famous speech long ago in the 
War, showed how we had been 14 times " too late ! " 
How many more " too lates " since he made that 
memorable speech ? Especially what about our ship- 
building and the German submarine menace and Ration - 



ing ? (The only favoured trades seem to be Brewing 
and Racing ! Both so flourishing !) 

The American barber on board the " Baltic " told me a 
good story. He was a quaint man, clean shaved and wore 
black alpaca throughout. Halfway across the Atlantic I 
was waiting to have my hair cut, when a gentleman 
bounced in on him, kicking up a devil of a fuss about 
wanting something at once ! The barber, without moving 
a muscle, calmed him by saying : " Are you leaving to-day, 
Sir ? " But this was his story. He was barber in the 
train from Chicago to New York that never stops *' even 
for a death " (so he told me) when the train suddenly 
stopped at a small village and a lady got out. Mr. 
Thompson, the President of the Railway, was in the 
train, and asked why ? The conductor showed an order 
signed by a great man of the Railway to stop there. 
When Mr. Thompson got to New York he asked this 
great man " What excuse ? " and added : ''I wouldn't 
have done it for my wife ! " and the answer he got was : 
" No more would II" 

But the sequel of the story is that I told this tale at an 
international cosmopolitan lunch party at Lucerne and 
said : " The curious thing is I knew the man ! " when 
Mr. Chauncey Depew wiped me out by saying that 
" he knew the woman ! " 

This American Barber quaintly praised the Engine 
Driver of this Chicago train by telling me that " he was 
always looking for what he didfi't zvant I " and so had 
avoided the train going into a River by noticing some- 
thing wrong with the points ! 


\ Bj' khui teTinissicii of " London Opinion.' 

America and the Blockade. 

" Why Mr. Wilson should expect this country to refrain from exercising 
a right in return for Germany's refraining from committing wrongs is 
not very clear to the ordinary intelhgence." — Daily Paper. 

Dame Wilson {to P. C. Fisher) : — "Oh, Constable ! Don't hurt him. 
I'm sure he won't murder anyone else i " 


Admiral Sampson brought his Squadron of the United 
States Navy to visit me at Bermuda. I was then the 
Admiral in North America. At the banquet I gave in 
his honour I proposed his health, and that of the United 
States. He never said a word. Presently one of his 
Officers went up and whispered something in his ear. 
I sent the wine round, and the Admiral then got up, and 
made the best speech I ever heard. All he said was : 
" It was a d — d fine old hen that hatched the American 
Eagle ! " His chaplain, after dinner, complimented me 
on the Officers of my Flagship, the " Renown." He said : 
" He had not heard a single ' swear ' from ' Soup to 
Pea-nuts ' " ! 

Lord Fisher on John Bright 

(From " Bright's House Journal ") 

At a dinner held in London the other day to Mr. 
Josephus Daniels, Secretary to the United States Navy, 
Lord Fisher made the following speech in which he 
referred to a speech by Mr. John Bright ; — 

" Admiral of the Fleet Lord Fisher, who was called 
upon also to respond, was received with cheers, the whole 
company standing up and drinking his health. He said 
he had no doubt it would be pleasing to them if he spoke 
about America. He was there one week. Mr. Daniels 
had been here about one week. He was in America one 
week because his only son was married there to the only 
daughter of a great Philadelphian. 

flp •ir •jP tP w ^F 

" ' King Edward who was a kind friend to me — in fact 
he was my only friend at one time ' — remarked Lord 

225 Q 


Fisher, ' said to me, " You are the best hated man in the 
British Empire/' and I repHed, " Yes, perhaps I am." 
The King then said, '' Do you know I am the only friend 
you have ? " I said, '' Perhaps your Majesty is right, but 
you have backed the winner." Afterwards I came out on 
top when I said, '' Do you remember you backed the 
winner and now everyone is saying what a sagacious 
King you are ? The betting was a thousand to one." ' 

" But he was going to tell them about America, and 
some of them would hear things they had never before 
heard about their own country. When he was at Bermuda 
a deputation of American citizens waited upon him on 
July 4th. To tell the honest truth he had forgotten about 
it. He told the deputation he knew what they had 
come there for. ' You know,' he said to them, * the 
greatest Englishman that ever lived was George 
Washington. He taught us how to rule our Colonies. 
He told us that freedom was the thing to give them. 
Why, if it had not been for George Washington America 
might have been Ireland.' * I shook hands with them,' 
continued Lord Fisher, ' and they went away and said 
nothing they had come to say. ... 

" ' Now I will talk about the League of Nations. In 
A.D. 1910 an American citizen wished to see me ; and 
he said to me, taking a paper out of his pocket, " Have 
you read that ? " I looked at it and saw it was a speech 
by John Bright, mostly in words of one syllable — sim- 
plicity is, of course, the great thing. That speech is 
really very little known on this side of the Atlantic or 
on the other, but it so impressed me at the time that I 
have been thinking of it ever since. John Bright said he 
looked forward to the time when there would be a com- 
pulsory peace — when those who spoke with the same 
tongue would form a great federation of free nations 
joined together.' " 



The following is an extract from the speech by Mr. 
John Bright. It was delivered at Edinburgh in 1868 : — 

" I do not know whether it is a dream or a vision, or 
the foresight of a future realitj^ that sometimes passes 
across my mind— I like to dwell upon it — but I frequently 
think the time may come when the maritime nations of 
Europe — this renowned country of which we are citizens, 
France, Prussia, resuscitated Spain, Italy, and the 
United States of America — may see that vast fleets are 
of no use ; that they are merely menaces offered from 
one country to another ; and that they may come to this 
wise conclusion — that they will combine at their joint 
expense, and under some joint management, to supply 
the sea with a sufficient sailing and armed police which 
may be necessary to keep the peace on all parts of the 
watery surface of the globe, and that those great instru- 
ments of war and oppression shall no longer be upheld. 
This, of course, by many will be thought to be a dream 
or a vision, not the foresight of what they call a states- 

Sir Hiram Maxim 

When Sir Hiram Maxim — that great American — was 
very little known, he came to see me when I was Captain 
of the Gunnery ship at Portsmouth, bringing with him 
his ever-famous Maxim gun, to be tried by me. So we 
went to Whale Island to practise with the gun ; and when 
he was ready to fire I adopted the usual practice in trying 
all new guns and ordered the experimental party to get 
under cover ; and at that order they were supposed to 
go into a sort of dug-out. Evidently old Maxim con- 
sidered this an insult to his gun, and he roared out at 
the top of his voice : " Britishers under cover, Yankees 

227 Q 2 


out in the open ! " The gun didn't burst and it was all 
right ; but it might have, all the same. 

Admiral Hornby the bravest of the brave, was one of 
the Britishers ; and he came to lunch with me, being 
extremely fascinated with Hiram's quaintness. Hiram 
was a delightful man in my opinion, and I remember 
his telling me that if I wanted to live long and see good 
days the thing was to eat Pork and Beans. I never had 
the chance, till 1 910, of eating them cooked a VAmeri- 
caine ; and I then agreed with Hiram Maxim — no more 
delicious dish in the world, but you can't get it in England 1 
After lunch there were some oranges on the table ; and 
to my dying day I shall never forget the extraordinary 
look on Sir Geoffrey Hornby's beautiful, refined face as 
Hiram reached out and grasped an orange from the centre 
of the table — tore it apart, and buried his face sucking 
out the contents, emerging all orange. He told us that 
was the way to enjoy an orange. We neither of us were 
up to it ! 




I WAS sent as a very young Lieutenant to a little fishing 
village called Heppens in Oldenburg. It is now Wilhelms- 
haven, chief Naval Port of Germany. Its river, the Jahde, 
was then a shallow stream. The occasion for my visit 
was the cession to King V/illiam of Prussia, as he was 
then, of this place, Heppens, by the Grand Duke of 
Oldenburg ; and there I met King William, to whom I 
sat next but one at lunch, and Bismarck and von Moltke 
and von Roon were there. We had a very long-winded 
speech from the Burgomaster, and Bismarck, whom I was 
standing next to, said to me in the middle of it : " I didn't 
know this was going to happen, or I would have cut him 
short." The King asked me at lunch why I had been 
sent, and if there was no one else who knew about 
torpedoes. Well, I don't think there was. It was an 
imposing and never-to-be-forgotten sight, that lunch. 
They all wore their helmets and great-coats at lunch — 
so mediaeval — and telegrams kept coming to Bismarck, 
who would get up and draw the King aside, and then 
they would sit down again. Von Roon I thought very 



debonnairey and Moltke was like an old image, taciturn 
and inscrutable, but he talked English as well as I did. 

Years after this, Prince Adalbert's Naval Aide-de-camp, 
who was a great friend of mine, told me that on the day 
of mobilization in the war with France he was sent to 
von Moltke with a message from Prince Adalbert, who 
was King William's brother and Head of the Navy, 
to ask him whether he could see Prince Adalbert for a 
few moments. To his astonishment, my friend found 
Moltke lying on a sofa reading " Lady Audley's Secret," 
by Miss Braddon, and he told him he could see the 
Prince for as long as he liked and whenever he liked. 
The word " Mobilize " had finished all his work for the 

On the occasion of my visit I imagined and reported 
what Heppens would become, and so it did. I never 
can make out why I didn't get a German decoration. I 
think perhaps they thought me too young. However, 
I had the honour of an empty sentry-box placed outside 
the little inn where I was staying ; and if I had been of 
higher rank there would have been a sentry in it. The 
little inn was very unpretentious, and when the landlord 
had carved for us he came and sat down at table with us. 
Some days after, at a very exclusive Military Club in 
Berlin, I met the King's two illegitimate brothers. They 
were exactly like him ; also I breakfasted with the Head 
of the German Mining School. I remember it, because 
we only had raw herring and black bread for breakfast. 
He was very poor, although he was exceeding clever, 
and had as his right-hand man a wonderful chemist. 



So far as I know, the present German mine is nearly 
what it was then, and the sea-gulls rested on the pro- 
tuberances as they do now, for I went to Kiel Bay to 
see them. There was a lovely hotel at Kiel, where they 
treated me royally. I recommended the adoption of these 
German mines, and it's a pity we didn't. They hold the 
field to this very day. However, the First Sea Lord of 
that date didn't believe in mines or torpedoes or sub- 
marines, and I was packed off to China in the old two- 
decker *' Donegal," as Commander of the China Flagship. 
Long afterwards Sir Hastings Yelverton, who became 
First Sea Lord, unburied my Memorandum headed 
" Ocean Warfare," and supported the views in it. It 
enunciated the principle of " Hit first, hit hard, and keep 
on hitting," and discoursed on Submarines and Mines. 


You are remarking to me of a charming letter written 
to me by the late Emperor of Russia's youngest sister— 
the Grand Duchess Olga. She is a peculiarly - sweet 
creature. Her nickname amongst the Russians was 
" Sunshine." Stolypin, the Prime Minister, told me 
that, and he also said to me that she was a kind of life- 
buoy because if you walked about with her you would 
not get bombed by an anarchist. All loved her. 

I made her acquaintance first at Carlsbad. On my 
arrival at the hotel I found King Edward's Equerry 
waiting in the hall. I had written to tell the King, who 
was at Marienbad, in answer to his enquiry, as to the day 



I should arrive and what time ; and he came over to 
Marienbad from Carlsbad. I went then and there and 
found him just finishing lunch with a peculiarly charming 
looking young lady, who turned out to be the Grand 
Duchess Olga, and her husband, the Grand Duke of 
Oldenburg, from whom happily she is now divorced (I 
didn't like the look of him at all). The King, having 
satisfied himself that I had had lunch, and he then 
smoking a cigar as big as a capstan bar, after talking of 
various things which interested him, told me that his 
niece, the Grand Duchess Olga, did not know anyone 
in Carlsbad, and he relied on me to make her time there 
pleasant, so I promptly asked her if she could waltz. 
She said she loved it, but she somehow never got the 
step properly, whereupon I asked the King if he had 
any objection to getting into the corner of the room while 
I moved the table and took the rugs up to give her 
Imperial Highness a lesson. He made some httle 
difficulty at first, but eventually went into the corner ; 
and when the lesson began he was quite pleased and 
clapped his hands and called out " Bravo ! " The best 
waltz tune in the world is one of Moody and Sankey's 
hymns. I don't know whether Sankey originated the 
saying that he didn't see why the Devil should have all 
the good music. I don't by that implicate that the 
waltz was the devil's ; but, without any doubt, there is 
a good deal of temptation in it, and when you get a 
good partner you cleave to her all the evening. 

This dancing lesson was an unalloyed success, so I 
asked her to a dance the next night at the Savoy Hotel ; 



and after some more words with the King I left, and 
walking down the stairs to go to my hotel, I thought to 
myself : " How on earth are you going to get up a dance 
when you don't know a soul in the place ? " when who 
should I meet but a friend of mine — a Spanish Grandee, 
the Marquis de Villa Vieja, and he arranged what really 
turned out to be a ball, as he knew everybody, and I 
having some dear American friends at Marienbad I 
telegraphed them to come over and dine with the Grand 
Duchess and stay the night for the ball, and they did. 
When the dance had begun, and the Grand Duchess was 
proving quite equal to her lesson of the day before, 
suddenly an apparition of extraordinary grace and loveli- 
ness appeared at the door. Villa Vieja took on the Grand 
Duchess and I welcomed the beautiful Polish Countess 
and danced with her many waltzes running in spite of a 
hint I received that her husband was very jealous and a 
renowned duellist. Next day, by telegram from the 
King, I was told by His Majesty that Isvolsky, the Russian 
Minister of Foreign Affairs, was to be asked by me to 
lunch on his arrival that day from St. Petersburg. I 
invited him ; and just as we sat down to lunch the Polish 
angel of the night before came through the door and 
petrified Isvolsky, and the more so as she kissed her hand 
to me. He never took his eyes off her, and as she walked 
to her table I heard him breathe a sigh, and say sotto voce^ 
*' Alas, in heaven no woman ! " I said to him : "Monsieur 
Isvolsky, pray pardon me ; perhaps you did not intend it 
to be heard, but if it be true what you say, it takes away 
much of the charm which I had anticipated finding there." 

, 233 * 


He turned to me and said — quoting chapter and verse in 
the Revelations, *' There was silence in heaven." 

So when I met the Grand Duchess Olga again, when I 
accompanied King Edward on that memorable visit to 
Reval — when, as Prince Orloff, the Emperor's principal 
aide-de-camp, said to me. King Edward changed the 
atmosphere of Russian feelings towards England from 
suspicion to cordial trust — there was quite an affectionate 
meeting, and we danced the " Merry Widow " wahz— 
a then famous stage performance — with such effect as 
to make the Empress of Russia laugh. They told me 
she had not laughed for two years. At the banquet 
preceding the dance the Grand Duchess and I, I regret 
to say, made such a disturbance in our mutual jokes that 
King Edward called out to me that I must try to remember 
that it was not the Midshipmen's Mess ; and my dear 
Grand Duchess thought I should be sent to Siberia or 
somewhere. We sailed at daylight, and I got a letter 
from her when I arrived in England saying she had made a 
point of seeing Uncle Bertie and that it was all right, I 
was not going to be punished. Then she went on to 
describe that she had had a very happy day (being her 
birthday) picnicking in the woods ; the only drawback 
was, she told me, that the gnats would bite her ankles. 
Being, at that period, both a courtier and a sycophant, I 
telegraphed to her at some Palace she was at in Russia 
to say " I wished to God I had been one of the gnats." 
It was weeks before she got the telegram, as the Russian 
Secret Department believed it was from some anarchist, 
and was a cypher for bombing the Emperor or something 



of the sort, and there was a lot of bother to trace out who 
had sent it. 

I find among my papers another charming letter which 
I received from the Grand Duchess Olga. It runs : 

11/25 July, 1909. 
Dear Admiral, 

I have been going to write to you for ever so long 
and now is a chance to send you a few lines. 

How are you getting on ? We speak of you very often. 
I suppose you'll be going to Carlsbad this automn — and 
I am very sorry that we are not going — so as to meet you 
there ! 

I have a great favour to ask you — but as I believe and 

think you can grant it — I shall ask : Lieutenant 

of your Royal Navy — ^whom we got to like very 
much two years ago at Sorrento — is willing to come 
this automn and spend a month with us at our 
country place — if he gets leaves of course ; I write all 
this to you as I don't know who else can help and give 
him leave. 

We should like to have him about the middle of your 
September (the very beginning of ours). If you think 
he can get leave just then would you kindly telegraph 
to me — then I could write and ask him (I suppose he will 
be at Cowes ?). Today is my namesday, and having 
received any amounts of presents — we are going to 
Church — as one always does — on such occasions and then 
there will be a rather big lunch and the band will play — 
All this glorious occasion is not only for me — but also for 
my niece Olga. 

My sister Xenia — who does not know you — says she is 
sorry not to have that honour and pleasure ! 

My husband sends his best love (or whatever one says). 
Goodbye dear Admiral. I wish I was going to see you 



soon it would be awfully amusing. Write to me later 
on when you will be free please ! 
Much love and good wishes. 


P.S. Mrs. Francklin sends lots of kind messages and 
love. Mama sends her best love too. 

That visit of King Edward to Russia was really quite 
remarkable for the really eloquent speech the King 
made, without a note of any sort. I said to him at 
breakfast the next morning, when they brought in a 
copy of what they thought he had said, that I wondered 
on such a momentous occasion he didn't have it written 
out. *' Well ! " he said to me, " I did try that once, 
when the French President Loubet came to visit me, and 
I learnt the speech off by heart in the garden of Bucking- 
ham Palace. When I got up to say it, I could not 
remember it, and had to keep on beginning again at the 
beginning. So I said to myself, ' Never again ' ! " And 
I must say I share his conviction that there is no such 
eloquence as when out of the abundance of the heart 
the mouth speaketh. Emotion and earnestness will do 
much more than move mountains ; they will move multi- 
tudes — and that was what King Edward was able to do. 

I have spoken elsewhere of what I deemed was a 
suitable epitaph for him — those great words of Pascal : 
" le coeur a ses raisons que la raison ne connait point." 
The heart has reasons that the mind knows nothing 

God bless him ! 

Stolypin, when we met him at Reval on King Edward's 



visit to the Czar, was described to us as the greatest, 
the bravest and most single-minded Prime Minister that 
Russia had ever possessed. He spoke English fluently, 
and certainly was very pro-English. He was beyond 
deception. His only daughter, he told me, had been 
killed by a bomb while he was walking with her in the 
garden, and one of his hands was greatly mutilated by 
the same explosion. He was murdered at the theatre 
at Moscow not very long afterwards. We had many 
conversations together. He said it was criminal folly 
having the capital of Russia elsewhere than inland, as at 
Moscow, for that Petersburg was open to German attack 
by sea. He seemed to have a prophetic view of England's 
imbecility as regards using her enormous sea supremacy 
to prevent the Baltic becoming a German lake, as it 
became in the war, though we were five times stronger 
than the German Fleet. So it passed by as an idle 
dream, any idea of England's interference, and alas ! he 
remembered our betrayal of Denmark when the Germans 
took Kiel and Schleswig-Holstein. 

Stolypin repeatedly said to me the frontier 
was his one and only thought, and he was devoting all his 
life to make that frontier impregnable against Germany, 
both in men and munitions, and strategic arrangements. 
But he did not live long enough to carry out his scheme. 


I also went with King Edward to Cartagena, when he 
returned the King of Spain's visit. King Alfonso, whom 



I had previously met in England, was very cordial to 
me because we had seven ** Dreadnoughts " ready before 
the Germans had one. In fact, when I told him this 
piece of news, as we were walking up and down the deck, 
with King Edward and Queen Alexandra watching us 
from two deck-chairs, King Alfonso was so delighted 
that he threw his arms round my neck, cried " You 
darling ! " and kissed me. Then he put his hand in his 
waistcoat pocket, took out a chocolate and popped it 
into my mouth. He gave me the highest Spanish Order 
he could. But when the box came on board containing 
it, it turned out to be the Order of Isabella the Catholic, 
which is only given to Roman Catholics; but the interesting 
thing is that when I was a little Midshipman I had been 
reading " Ferdinand and Isabella," and I remember saying 
to my messmates that I intended some day to have the 
Order of Isabella the Catholic. And when, some years 
after, as a Lieutenant it was the fashion to wear medal 
ribbons in a rosette, upon some supercilious ojfficer 
asking me what " that thing " was in my button-hole, I 
quite remember saying, by way of pulling his leg, that 
it was the Spanish Order of Isabella the Catholic. How- 
ever, I got the proper Order in time to wear at the 

The banquet was a very fine sight, as King Alfonso had 
brought down the tapestries, pictures and other ornaments 
from the Escurial. The Spanish Admirals were a grand 
sight. They wore the ancient uniform, and each had a 
great Malacca cane with a big gold top. They all came 
on board to call on King Edward in an old-fashioned 



pulling barge, and the sailors wore crimson and gold 

sashes. That rowing barge and the splendid uniforms 

lay at the root of one occasion when King Edward was 

really angry with me. I had been arranging for him the 

details of the great Naval Review and was summoned to 

Buckingham Palace to discuss them with him. I found 

no Equerries in attendance, no one about, and the King 

white with anger. " So ! " he cried out to me, "I'm 

to go by such and such a train, am I ? And I'm to 

embark at such and such a time, am I ? And I'm to use 

your barge because it's a better barge than mine, is it ? 

Look here, am I the King or are you ? " The upshot of 

the interview was that he threw the papers on the floor, 

with '* Have it your own way 1 " But the secret cause 

of his anger was that he had made up his mind to go off in 

a rowing-boat like the Spanish Admirals, forgetting that 

there is no tide at Cartagena, whereas the tide at Cowes 

runs many knots, and it would have taken a rowing-boat 

hours to do what the barge could do in a few minutes. 

KiAMiL Pasha 

One of the most pleasurable incidents of my holding 
the appointment of Commander-in-Chief of the Mediter- 
ranean Fleet was going to Smyrna to do honour to that 
splendid old Turk, Kiamil Pasha. He was then Vali, or 
Governor, of the Province of Smyrna. He was most 
hale and vigorous. He so delighted me with his conver- 
sations and experiences that it's a sincere joy to me now 
to recall, even in this humble way, what a magnificent 



old man he was, and how he had so often placed his 
life in jeopardy for the sake of right and for the good of 
his country, which last, he said (he spoke most fluent 
Enghsh), had been " imperishably bound up with 
England's righteous work in the East." He had been 
many times Grand Vizier, and he knew all the secret 
incidents following and preceding the Crimean War. 
And he said fervidly that England was the only nation 
that never asked and never schemed to get anything out 
of Turkey. And he said it was only the insensate folly 
of the English Authorities that could ever have dislodged 
England from her wonderful supremacy over the minds 
of the whole Turkish people. I told him, in return, 
that the English treatment of Turkey was only on a par 
with the EngHsh folly of giving up Heligoland, Corfu, 
Tangier, Minorca, Java, Sumatra, Cura9oa (the key 
of the Panama Canal), Delagoa Bay (the only harbour 
in Africa), and so on, and so on, and explained, to his 
delighted amusement, that we were a nation of Lions 
led by Asses. He pretty well foretold all that has hap- 
pened since 1902. 

With respect to Tangier, which was the dowry of 
Henrietta Maria, I diverge a moment to mention that a 
great Spaniard in high office once said to me that it was 
a curious fact that whenever Spain had left the side of 
England she had inevitably come to grief. 

Following on Kiamil's wonderful prescience, I found 
on my visit to the Sultan, who had invited me to Con- 
stantinople, that all I had heard from him about Bulgaria 
was confirmed at Constantinople. One and all said that 



Bulgaria was the fighting nation, and that Bulgaria was 
the Kev of the East. I was so saturated with the im- 
portance of this fact that I spoke to Kitchener about it 
when the War commenced, but we did not give Bulgaria 
what she wanted, and when, a year afterwards, she was 
offered the same terms it was too late. 

A great Bank always, I believe, has a travelling inspector 
who visits all the branches. We want such a personage 
to visit all our representatives in foreign lands, and see 
what they have done for England in the previous year. 




Amongst the 13 First Lords ot the Admiralty I 
have had to deal with (and with nine of them I was 
very intimately associated) I should like to record that 
in my opinion Lord George Hamilton and Lord Spencer 
had the toughest jobs, because of the constitution of 
their respective Boards of Admiralty ; and yet neither of 
them received the credit each of them deserved for his 
most successful administration. With both of them their 
tact was unsurpassable. They had to deal with ex- 
tremely able colleagues, and my experience is that it is 
not a good thing to have a lot of able men associated 
together. If you take a little of the best Port Wine, the 
best Champagne, the best Claret, and the best Hock and 
mix them together, the result is disastrous. So often is 
it with a Board of Admiralty. That's why I have suffered 
fools gladly ! But Lord George Hamilton and Lord 
Spencer had an awful time of it. To both of these (I 
consider) great men I am very specially beholden. Lord 
George Hamilton more particularly endured much on my 
behalf when I was Director of Naval Ordnance, fighting 
the War Office. It was his own decision that sent me to 



Portsmouth as Admiral Superintendent of the Dockyard, 
and thus enabled me practically to prove the wisdom and 
the economy of concentrating workmen on one ship like 
a hive of bees and adopting piece-work to the utmost 
limit. Cannot anyone realise that if you have your men 
spread over many ships building, your capital is pro- 
ducing no dividend as compared with getting a ship 
rushed and sent to sea ready to fight ? I was held up as 
a drsLUisitic poseur because the " Dreadnought " was built in 
a year and a day. Yes ! She was ready to fight in a year 
and a day. She did fire her guns. The '' Inflexible," her 
famous prototype in former years, which I commanded, 
was four or five years building. I took up the battleship 
" Royal Sovereign " when I went as Superintendent of 
Portsmouth Dockyard and got her completed within two 
years, and thereby saw my way to doing it in a year. 
And so would I have done the famous *' Hush Hush " 
ships, as I said I would ; only circumstances brought 
about my departure from the Admiralty, and apathy 
came back, and those '' Hush Hush " ships consequently 
took more than a year to build. And some armchair 
quill-drivers still sling ink at 'em. And when I heard 
from an eye-witness how the whole lot of German cruisers 
did flee when they appeared and ought to have been 
gobbled up I rubbed my hands with malignant glee at 
the devastation of my pen-and-ink enemies. As usual in 
the war, on that occasion the business wasn't pushed home. 
To revert to my theme — I owe also a great debt to 
Lord George Hamilton, when at a previous stage of my 
career he dissuaded me from accepting an offer from 

243 R 2 


Lord Rothschild, really beyond the dreams of avarice, of 
becoming the head of a great armament and shipbuilding 
combine, which accordingly fell through on my refusal. 
Had I gone, I'd have been a millionaire instead of a 
pauper as I am now ; but I wouldn't have been First 
Sea Lord from 1904 to 19 10 and then '' Sacking the 
Lot ! " Lord George also selected me to be Controller 
of the Navy. 

Lord Spencer called a horse after me — almost as great 
an honour. Lord Spencer was really a very magnificent 
man, and he had the attributes of his great ancestor, who 
selected Nelson over a great many of his seniors to go 
and win the Battle of the Nile. There was no one else 
who would have done it ; and when Sir John Orde, one 
of the aggrieved Admirals, told the King that the selected 
Nelson was mad, he replied, " I wish to God he would 
bite you all ! " My Lord Spencer had the same gift of 
selection— it's the biggest gift that a man in such a 
position can have, and the life, the fate of his country 
may depend upon him. Only war finds out poltroons. 
Lord Spencer turned out his master, to whom he was 
faithfully devoted, when he saw the Navy was in danger 
and that Mr. Gladstone would not agree to strengthen 
it. His manners were superb. He satisfied that great 
description of what constitutes a gentleman : " He never 
hurt any man's feelings." 

There's another First Lord I have too faintly alluded 
to — Lord Northbrook. He also was a great man, but he 
was not considered so by the populace. He was a victim 
to his political associates — they let him in. His finance 



at the Admiralty was bad through no fault of his, and he 
was persuaded to go to Egypt, which I think was a 
mistake. I stayed with him, and the microscope of home 
revealed him to me. His conceptions were magnificent 
and his decisions were like those of the Medes and 
Persians. Of all the awful people in the world nothing 
is so terrible as a vacillator. I am not sure the Devil 
isn't right when he says, " Tell a lie and stick to it." 
Lord Northbrook also in spite of intense opposition laid 
hold of my hand and led me forth in the paths I glory m, 
of Reform and Revolution. Stagnation, in my opinion, 
is the curse of life. I have no fellow-feeling with those 
placid souls who, like a duck-pond, torpid and quiescent, 
live the life of cabbages. I don't believe anybody can 
say, " Of such is the Kingdom of Heaven," because it is 
immortally shown that strife is the secret of a good life. 

As with Lord Spencer, so was it with Lord Selborne. 
He again, as First Lord of the Admiralty, took the unusual 
course of kindly coming to Malta to see me when I 
commanded the Mediterranean fleet (the Boer War 
placed England in a very critical position at that time) ; 
and though there was a great strife with the Admiralty 
he chose me after my three years as Commander-in-Chief 
to be Second Sea Lord of the Admiralty and permitted 
me to unfold a scheme of education which came into 
being on the following Christmas Day without the 
alteration of a comma. More than that, he benevolently 
spared me from the Admiralty to become Commander- 
in-Chief at Portsmouth, to see that scheme carried out. 
Many letters have I that that step indicated the end of 



my naval career. I believe to that date it always has 
been so, but within a year I was First Sea Lord, and 
never did any First Lord hold more warmly the hand of 
his principal adviser than Lord Selborne held mine. 

There are few people living to whom I am under a 
greater obligation than Admiral Sir Francis Bridgeman, 
G.C.B. This distinguished sailor aided me in the gradual 
building up of the Grand Fleet. As I have said before, 
it had to be done unostentatiously and by slow degrees, 
for fear of exciting the attention of the German Admiralty 
and too much embroiling myself with the Admirals whose 
fleets had to be denuded till they disappeared, so as to 
come under Admiral Sir Francis Bridgeman's command, 
with whom the Grand Fleet originated under the humble 
designation of the Home Fleet — a gathering and per- 
petuation of the old more or less stationary coast-guard 
ships scattered all round the United Kingdom and, as 
the old phrase was, " Grounding on their beef bones " 
as they swung with the tide at their anchors. In the 
Providence of God the animosities of the Admirals thus 
engendered caused the real success of the whole scheme 
— and what should have been as clear as crystal to the 
least observant onlooker was obscured by the fumes of 
anger exuding from these scandalized Admirals. I look 
back with astonishment at my Job-like conduct, but it 
had its compensations. I hope Sir Francis Bridgeman 
will forgive me for hauling him into this book — I have 
no other way of showing him my eternal gratitude ; and 
it was with intense delight that I congratulated Mr. 
Churchill on obtaining his services to succeed Sir Arthur 



Wilson, the First Sea Lord, who had so magnificently 
adhered to the scheme I left. 

Sir Arthur refused a Peerage, and he was a faithful 
and self-effacing friend in his room at the Admiralty 
those seven fateful months I was First Sea Lord during 
the war. It was peculiarly fortunate and providential 
that the two immediately succeeding First Sea Lords 
after my departure on January 25th, 19 10, should have 
been the two great sailors they were— otherwise there 
would have been no Grand Fleet — they altered nothing, 
and the glacier moved along, resistless and crushing all 
the obstacles in its path, and now, after the war, it has 
passed on ; the dead corpses of the foes of the scheme 
are disclosed, and we'll bury them without comment. 

I began these talks by solemnly declaring that I would 
not mention a single living name — please let it stand — 
it shows what one's intention was ; but one is really 
forced to stand up to such outstanding personalities as 
Sir Arthur Wilson and Sir Francis Bridgeman, and I 
again repeat with all the emphasis at my command that 
it would have been impossible to have conducted those 
eight great years of ceaseless reform, culminating in the 
production of the most incomparable fleet that ever 
existed, had not the two Political Administrations, four 
First Lords, and every member of the several Boards of 
Admiralty been, as I described them in public, united, 
determined, and progressive. Never for one instant did 
a single Board of Admiralty during that time lay on 
its oars. For to rest on our oars would not have been 
standing still ; the malignant tide was fierce against us, 



and the younger Officers of the fleet responded 

On January 3rd, 1903, I wrote as follows in reply to 
some criticism of me as First Sea Lord : — 

** Our Fleets are 50 per cent, more at sea, and we hit 
the target 50 per cent, more than we did two years ago. 

*' In the first year there were 2,000 more misses than 
hits ! 

** In the second year there were 2,000 more hits than 
misses ! " 

The very first thing I did when I returned to the 
Admiralty as First Sea Lord for those seven months in 
the first year of the war was instantly to get back Sir 
Percy Scott into the Fighting Arena. I had but one 
answer to all his detractors and to the opposition to his 
return : — 

*' He hits the target ! " 

He also was maliciously maligned. I don't mean to 
say that Sir Percy Scott indulges in soft soap towards 
his superiors. I don't think he ever poured hot water 
down anybody's back. Let us thank God he didn't ! 

I have repeatedly said (and I reiterate it whenever I 
get the chance) that Nelson was nothing if he was not 
insubordinate. Nelson's four immortal Big Fights are 
brilliant and everlasting testimonies to the virtues of 
Self- Assertion, Self-Reliance, and Contempt of Authority. 
But of Nelson and the Nelsonic attributes 1 treat in 
another place. (Ah ! Lord Rosebery, if only you had 
written " Nelson's Last Phase " ! I entreated you, but 
without avail !) (Again a repetition !) Nelson's Life 



not yet written ! Southey's Life, meant only for school- 
boys, still holds the field. W. T. Stead might have done 
it, for the sacred fire of Great Emotions was the calorific 
of Stead's Internal Combustion Engine. Suffice it to 
say of Sir Percy Scott that it was he and he alone who 
made the first start of the Fleet's hitting the enemy and 
not missing him. Why hasn't he been made a Viscount ? 
But that is reserved for those in another sphere ! 

" The Tides — and Sir Frederick Treves." — One of my 
greatest benefactors (he saved my life. Six doctors 
wanted to operate on me — he wouldn't have it ; the conse- 
quence — I'm better now than ever I was in my life) is 
Sir Frederick Treves, Surgeon, Orator, Writer, " De- 
veloper of the Powers of Observation." He, this 
morning, September i6th, 1919, gives me something 
to think about. It has relation to my dear and splendid 
friend Sir Charles Parsons, President of the British 
Association and inventor of the Turbine, who said the 
other day at Bournemouth that our coal bids fair to fail 
and we must seek other sources of power. Considering 
that Sir Charles invented the Turbine — derided by 
everyone as a box of tricks, and it now monopolises 
80 per cent, of the horse-power of the world — we ought 
to listen to him. His idea is to dig a twelve-mile hole 
into the earth to get hold of power. Now Sir Frederick 
in his letter this morning uses these words : 

'* England is an Island. We are surrounded on all 
sides with the greatest source of power in the world — 
the Tides. 

"' There is enough force in the Tides to light and heat 



the whole country, and to run all its railways. It is 
running to waste while we are bellowing for coal." 

I know exactly what the Royal Society will say to Sir 
Frederick Treves. The Royal Society, not so many 
years ago, said through one of its most distinguished 
members that the aeroplane was a physical impossibility. 
When I said this to Sir Hiram Maxim he placed his 
thumb to his nose and extended his fingers ; and, as I 
have remarked elsewhere, aeroplanes are now as plentiful 
as sparrows. So do not let us put Sir Frederick Treves 
in the waste paper basket. He's a great man. When 
Lord Lister and my dear friend Sir Thomas Smith were 
beholding him operating on King Edward at the time 
when his illness stopped his Coronation — even those two 
wonderful surgeons held their breath at Treves's astound- 
ing skill and confidence. He kept on, and saved King 
Edward's life. There was no *' Not running risks " 
with him. He snatched his King from death. The 
others both thought Death had won, and they both 
exclaimed ! 

Sir Frederick won't see this until he reads it in his 
presentation copy of this book, or he wouldn't have it. 

And then he is so choice in his educational ideas. 
Here's a lovely morsel, which I commend to School- 
masters (Curse 'em ! they ruined Osborne). Sir Frederick 
says : — 

"Our present system of education is on a par with 
the Training of Performing Dogs, they're merely taught 
tricks ! and Trick antics do not help a boy much in the 
serious business of life. There is no attempt to get at 



the mind of a boy, and still less any attempt to find out 
his particular abilities. The only thing is, Is he good at 
Mental Acrobatics ? A very fine book on ' The New 
Education '^ was published in the Autumn of last year, 
19 1 8. It shows up the wasteful absurdities of the present 
Educational System. Of course, no attention has been 
paid to it, because it is so simple, so evident, and so 
human. . . . Years are spent in teaching a boy Latin 
Verses, but never a moment to teach him ' How to 
develop powers of Observation.' " 

I could tell my readers instances of Sir Frederick's 
powers in this last regard ; and the medical students 
during the many years he was their Lecturer could all 
of them do Sir Frederick greater justice than I can. 

" God bless Sir Frederick Treves I " 

Of all the famous men I have known. Lord Kelvin had 

the greatest brain. He went to sea with me in many new 

ships that I commanded. Once, in a bleak March east 

wind at Sheerness I found him on deck on a high pedestal 

exposed to the piercing blast watching his wonderful 

compass, and he had only a very thin coat on. I said : 

" For goodness sake, Sir William, come down and put on 

a great coat." He said : " No, thank you, I am quite 

warm. I've got several vests on." His theory was that 

it was much warmer wearing many thin vests than one 

thick one, as the interstices of one were filled up by the 

next one, and so on. I explained this afterwards, as I 

sat one day at lunch next to the Emperor of Russia, when 

he asked me to explain my youth and good health, and 

I hoped that he would follow Lord Kelvin's example, as 

1 "The New Teaching," edited by John Adams. Hodder and 



I did. Lord Kelvin got this idea of a number of thin 
vests instead of one thick one from the Chinese, who, in 
many ways, are our superiors. 

For instance, a Chinaman, Hke an ancient Greek or 
Roman, maintains that the liver is the seat of the human 
affections. We believe that the heart is. So a Chinese 
always offers his hand and his liver to the young lady of 
his choice. Neither do they ever kiss each other in China. 
Confucius stopped it because the lips are the most 
susceptible portion of the human body to infection. 
When two Chinese meet, they rub their knees with their 
hands, and say *' Ah " with a deep breath. A dear friend 
of mine went to the Viceroy of Nankin to enquire how 
his newly-raised Army was getting on with the huge 
consignment of magnificent rifles sent out from England 
for its use. The Chinese Viceroy told my friend he was 
immensely pleased with these rifles, and the reports 
made to him showed extraordinary accuracy, as the troops 
hit the target every time. The Viceroy sent my friend 
up in a Chinese gunboat to see the Army. When my 
friend landed he was received by the Inspector-General 
of Musketry, who was a peacock feather Mandarin, and 
taken to see the soldiers firing. To my friend's amaze- 
ment the soldiers were firing at the targets placed only a 
few hundred yards off, and he explained to the Mandarin 
that these wonderful rifles fitted with telescopic sights 
were meant for long ranges, and their accuracy was 
wonderful. The Mandarin replied to him : *' Look 
here ! my orders from the Viceroy are that every man in 
the army should hit the target, because these rifles are 



so wonderfully good, and so they do, and the Viceroy is 
very pleased at my reports." And he added : " You 
know, we go back 2,000 years before your people in our 
knowledge of the world." 

Lord Kelvin had a wonderful gift of being able to 
pursue abstruse investigations in the hubbub of a drawing 
room full of visitors. He would produce a large green 
book out of a gamekeeper's pocket he had at the back 
of his coat, and suddenly go ahead with figures. I had 
an interesting episode once. Sir William Thomson, as 
he then was, had come with me for the first voyage of a 
new big cruiser that I commanded. I had arranged for 
various responsible persons to report to me at 8 a.m. 
how various parts of the ship were behaving. One of 
them reported that a rivet was loose, and there was a 
slight leak. I said casually : ** I wonder how much water 
would come in if the rivet came out altogether." Sir 
William was sitting next me at breakfast, very much 
enjoying eggs and bacon, and he asked the Officer : 
" How big is the rivet ? " and whereabouts it was, etc. 
The Officer left, and Sir William went on with his eggs 
and bacon, and I talked to Sir Nathaniel Barnaby on 
the other side of me, who was the designer of the ship 
that we were in. Presently, Sir William, in a mild voice, 
never having ceased his eggs and bacon, said so much 
water would come in. Sir N. Barnaby thereupon worked 
it out on paper and said to Sir William : " You made a 
good guess." He replied : " I didn't guess. I worked 
it out." 

The Midshipmen idolised Lord Kelvin, and they were 



very intimate with him. I heard one of them, who was 
four-foot-nothing, explain to Sir WilHam how to make a 
magnet. Sir WilHam listened to the Midshipman's 
lecture on magnetism with the greatest deference, and 
gave the little boy no idea of what a little ass he was to 
be talking to the greatest man on earth on the subject 
of magnetism. The same little boy took the time for 
him in observing the lighthouse flashes, and Sir William 
wrote a splendid letter to The Times pointing out 
that the intervals of darkness should be the exception, 
and the flashes of light the rule, in a lighthouse, where- 
upon the Chief Engineer of the Lighthouse Department 
traversed Sir William's facts. The little boy came up 
to Sir William and asked him if he had read the letter, 
and he hadn't, so he told him of it and then asked Sir 
William if he would like him to write to The Times to 
corroborate him. Sir William thanked him sweetly, but 
said he would take no notice, as they would alter the 
flashes, and so they did. 

This little boy was splendid. He played me a 
Machiavellian trick. We had an ass one night as Officer 
of the Watch, and in the middle watch I was nearly jerked 
out of my cot by a heavy squall striking the ship. I 
rushed up on deck (raining torrents) and we got in what 
was left of the sails, and I came down soaked through and 
bitterly cold, and on the main deck I met my young 
friend, the little Midshipman, with a smoking hot bowl 
of cocoa. I never enjoyed anything more in my life, and 
I blessed the little boy, but it suddenly occurred to me 
that he was as dry as a bone. I said : *' How is it you 



are dressed ? " He said : " I am Midshipman of the 
watch." I said : '* The devil you are ! How is it you 
aren't wet ? " " Well, sir," he said, " 1 thought I 
should be best doing my duty by going below and making 
you a bowl of cocoa." I feh I had sold myself, like 
Esau, for a mess of pottage. He was a splendid boy, 
and he wrote me periodically till he died. He was left 
a fortune. He was turned out of the Navy for knocking 
his Captain down. I received a telegram to say that 
he was ill and delirious and talking of me only, and 
almost immediately afterwards a telegram came to say 
he was dead. 

Sir Nathaniel Barnaby, the eminent Director of Naval 
Construction at the Admiralty, was also a great man, 
but he never had recognition. He was not self-assertive. 
He was as meek as Moses, and he was a saint. It was 
he conceived the wonder of the time— the " Inflexible " ; 
and I was her first Captain. He went out in her with 
me to the Mediterranean. We had an awful gale in 
the Bay of Biscay. Sir Nathaniel nearly died with sea- 
sickness. I was cheering him up, and he whispered in 
reply : '' Fools build houses for wise men to live in. 
Wise men build ships for fools to go in." 

If ever there was a great Christian, he was. After he 
retired he devoted his whole life to Sunday schools, not 
only in this country, but in America. There was some 
great scheme, of which he gave me particulars at the time, 
of a vast association of all Sunday schools wherever the 
English tongue is spoken. Perhaps it is in being now— 
I don't know ; but it was a fine conception that on some 



specified day throughout the world every child should 
join in some hymn and prayer for that great idea of 
John Bright's — the Commonwealth of Free Nations, all 
speaking the same grand old English tongue. I was too 
busy ever to follow that up, as I would have liked to have 
done, and been his missionary. 

A letter which he wrote to me in igic, and a much 
earlier note of mine to him, which he enclosed with it, 
are interesting, and I give them here : 

Letter from Sir Nathaniel Barnahy^ K.C.B. {formerly 
Chief Constructor of the Navy) to Lord Fisher. 

Moray House, 
Lewisham, S.E. 

i$th January, igio 

My Dear Admiral, 

I suppose the enclosed brief note must have been 
written by you to me over a quarter of a century ago. 
You were meditating ** Dreadnoughts " even then and 
finding in me the opposition on the ground of '* the 
degradation of our other Ironclads " through the intro- 
duction of the " i8-knot ' Nonsuch.' " 

I have said to you before that I love a man w^ho knows 
his own mind, and insists on getting his way. I have 
therefore no complaint to make. 

In a note dated two days earlier I see you say, " Bother 
the money ! if we are all agreed that will be forth- 

And they accuse you of cheeseparing and starving the 
Navy ! 

It was I that stood for economy — see enclosed, on the 
principal events affecting and indicating Naval Policy, 
1866-1884, drawn up by me for Mr. Campbell-Banner- 


Sir John Fisher at the Hague Peace Conference, 

May, 1899. 


See also the other side of me in a letter to the Peace 
Society People, and see a little hymn written for children 
to " Russian National Anthem " and now widely sung. 

With sincere respect and good wishes, 

Yours always, 
(Signed) Nathaniel Barnaby. 

Please return your note to me ; nothing else. 

This was the old letter of mine which he enclosed : — 

From Lord Fisher to Sir N. Barnaby in 1883. 

January 2$th, 

I have delayed sending you this letter hoping to find 
copy of a brief article I wrote on H.M. Ironclad 
" Nonsuch "of 18 knots, after seeing your design A ; I 
can't find it, and have written for the original, which I 
will send for your amusement. I don't think your 
argument is a sound one as to the *' degradation of our 
other ironclads by the construction of an i8-knotter." 
Isn't the principle right to make each succeeding iron- 
clad an improvement and as perfect as you can } 


We've had enough of the " Admiral " class of ship. Now 
try your hand on a " Nonsuch " (of vast speed !). 

In violent haste. 

Ever yours, 

(Sgd.) J. A. F. 

" Build few, and build fast, 
Each one better than the last." 

Two of Sir Nathaniel Barnaby 's great successors in 
that arduous and always thankless post of Director of 
Naval Construction are Sir Philip Watts and Sir Eustace 

257 s 


Tennyson-D'Eyncourt. These two great men have each 
of them done such service as should have brought them 
far greater honour than as yet they have received. The 
*' Dreadnought " could not have been born but for Sir 
Philip Watts. I commend to all who wish to have a 
succinct account of the ships of the British Navy that 
formed the line of battle on the outbreak of war on the 
4th August, 1914, to read the paper delivered by Sir 
Philip Watts at the Spring Meeting of the Naval Archi- 
tects on the 9th April, 19 19, when a very excellent Sea 
Officer with more brains than most people I have met 
presided- being the Marquis of Bristol. And it was a 
great delight to me that he commanded the " Renown," 
my favourite ship, to bring to England King Alfonso— 
an equally admired hero of mine. If ever there was a 
brave man it is King Alfonso. 

My other scientific hero besides Sir Philip Watts is 
Sir Eustace D'Eyncourt. He also was the practical means, 
besides his wonderful professional genius, of bringing 
forth what are known as the " Hush Hush " ships on 
account of the mystery surrounding their construction ; 
and notwithstanding the armchair " Know-alls " who 
have done their best to blast their reputation, they 
achieved — the five of them — a phenomenal success. Sir 
Eustace D'Eyncourt also gave us those incomparable 
Monitors, with their bulges under water, which were 
'' given away " through the unmitigated folly of the 
Censors, who permitted a newspaper correspondent to 
describe how he had seen men, like St, Peter, walking on 
the water — they were walking on the protuberance 



which extended under the surface as the absolute protec- 
tion against submarines ; and when an old first-class 
cruiser called the " Grafton " had been so made sub- 
marine-proof, the captain of her, after receiving a torpedo 
fired at him at right angles and hitting him amidships, 
reported to the Admiralty that she went faster than 
before, simply because her hull proper had not been 
touched ; the submarine had only blown away the sub- 
marine obstruction that Sir Eustace had fitted to her. 
Has he been made a lord ? Personally I should say the 
tanks could never have existed without him ; of that I am 
quite sure. Sir Philip Watts and Sir Eustace D'Eyncourt 
are enshrined in my heart. 

Previously in this chapter I mentioned Mr. Gladstone. 
I sat next to him at dinner once. At the other side of 
him was a very beautiful woman, but she was struck dumb 
by awe of Mr. Gladstone, so he turned round to me and 
asked me if I had ever been in China. Yes, I had. And 
he asked me who were the best missionaries. I said the 
Roman Catholics were the most successful as they wore 
the Chinese dress, were untrammelled by families, so 
they got better amongst the people in the interior, but 
furthermore in their chapels they represented our Saviour 
and His Apostles with pigtails and dressed as Chinamen. 
Yes, he said, he remembered that, and he told me the 
name of the Head of the Roman Catholic Mission, whose 
name I had forgotten, and said to me that the Pope 
considered he had gone too far in that respect, and had 
recalled him. That had happened some twenty years 
previously, and I had forgotten all about it. Someone 

259 s 2 


said what a pity that all that is now being said is being 
lost. Mr. Gladstone said : *' Nothing is lost. Science 
will one day take off the walls of this room what we have 
been saying." This was years before the gramophone 
and the dictaphone and the telephone. He told us a 
great deal about Abraham and pigs, and why Abraham 
was so dead against them, and how he, Gladstone, had 
been driven by Daniel O'Connell in a four-in-hand, and 
how the Bishops in his early days were so much handsomer 
than now. One Bishop he specially named was called 
** The Beauty of Holiness." When he left, he asked me 
to walk home with him, which I did. Mrs. Gladstone 
said, seated inside the brougham which was waiting at 
the door : '' Come in, William." He said : " No, I 
am going to walk with this young man." It was midnight, 
and Piccadilly was quite alive. He was living with Lady 
Frederick Cavendish, I think, at Carlton Gardens. We 
were nearly run over, as he was regardless of the traffic. 
I remember his saying : " Do right, and you can never 
suffer for it." I thought of that when, in my own case 
later on, it was *' Athanasius contra Mundum." I was 
urged only to attack one vested interest at a time, but I 
said, ** No, if you kick everyone's shins at the same time 
they won't trouble about their neighbours," and it 
succeeded ; but alas ! I gave up one thing, which was 
the real democratic pith and marrow, the Free Education 
of the Naval Officer, and a competence from the moment 
of entry, and open to all. King Edward said to me about 
this : ** You're a Socialist." I said that a white shirt 
doesn't imply the best brain. We have forty million to 

' 260 


select from, and we restrict our selection to about one- 
fortieth of the population. 

I here relate an episode which made a deep impression 
on me and one never effaced. At the time of Gladstone's 
death I was looking at his picture in a shop window. 
Two working men were doing the same. The one said 
to the other : " That man died poor, but could have 
died rich, had he used his knowledge as Prime Minister 
to make investments quite lawfully ; but he didn't ! " 

It really is a very fine thing in the public men of this 


I have always worshipped Abraham Lincoln. I have 
elsewhere related how he never argued with Judge or 
Jury or anyone else, but always told a story, thus 
following that great and inestimable example in Holy 
Writ : " And without a parable spake he not unto them." 
But one wishes it were more known how great were his 
simple views. His sole idea of a Christian Church was 
to preach the Saviour's condensed statement " to love 
God and your Neighbour ! " He said that summed up 
all religion. He gloried in having been himself a hired 
labourer and believed in a system which allowed labourers 
" to strike " when they wanted to, and did not oblige them 
to labour whether you pay them or not. He said : " I do 
not believe in a law to prevent a man getting rich (that 
would do more harm than good), so while we do not 
propose any war upon Capital we do wish to allow the 
humblest an equal chance to get rich with everybody else. 
I want every man to have a chance to better his condi- 
tion." And what Lincoln says of diligence is very good : 



" The leading rule for the man of every calling is 
DILIGENCE ! Whatever piece of business you have 
in hand, before stopping do all the labour pertaining to 
it which can be done." 

That most moving account of Lincoln's simple elo- 
quence at the graves of Gettysburg is a most touching 
episode. The thousands listening to him never uttered 
a sound. There was a dead silence, when he stopped 
speaking. He left thinking himself a failure. It was 
the success of his life. A great orator just before him 
had moved the multitude to cheer unboundedly ! but 
after Lincoln their feelings made them dumb. 

While on personalities, I should like to say a little 
on one of the best friends I ever had and in my 
opinion the greatest of all journalists. Lord Morley 
once told me that he had never known the equal of 
W. T. Stead in his astounding gift of catching the 
popular feeling. He was absolute integrity and he 
feared no man. I myself have heard him tackle a Prime 
Minister like a terrier a rat. I have known him go to a 
packed meeting and scathe the whole mob of them. He 
never thought of money ; he only thought of truth. He 
might have been a rich man if he hadn't told the truth. 
I know it. When he was over sixty he performed a 
journalistic feat that was wondrous. By King Edward's 
positive orders a cordon was arranged round the battle- 
cruiser '* Indomitable," arriving late at night at Cowes with 
the Prince of Wales on board, to prevent the Press being 
a nuisance. Stead, in a small boat, dropped down with 
the tide from ahead and swarmed up a rope ladder under 



the bows, about 30 feet high and then along a sort of 
greasy pole, known to sailors as the lower boom, talked 
to one of the Officers, who naturally supposed he 
couldn't be there without permission ; and the Daily Mail 
the next morning had the most perfect digest I have 
ever read of perhaps one of the most wonderful passages 
ever made. This big battle cruiser encumbered with 
the heaviest guns known, and with hundreds and hundreds 
of tons of armour on her side, beat the " Mauretania, " 
the greyhound of the seas, built of gingerbread, carrying 
no cargo, and shaped for no other purpose than for speed 
and luxury. 

Of course no other paper had a word. 

Stead always told me he would die in his boots. Strife 
was his portion, he said. I am not sure that my friend 
Arnold White would not have shot him at sight in the 
Boer War. Stead was a pro-Boer, and so was I. I 
simply loved Botha, and Botha gave me great words. He 
said: " English was the business language of the globe " — 
that's good ! Of course every genius has a strain of 
queerness. Does not the poet say : " Great wits to mad- 
ness often are allied ? " I remember a book which had 
a great circulation, entitled ** The Insanity of Genius" 
I very nearly wrote a letter to The Times only I was 
afraid they might think me mad, and I was afraid that 
Admiral Fitzgerald might not think me modest (see his 
letter in The Times of Sept. 8th, 19 19). This was 
my letter to The Times : — 

" Genius is not insanity, it only means the man is 
before his time. That's all." 



That was the whole of the letter. 

There was a very great scientist (he is a very great 
friend of mine and he discovered something I can't 
remember the name of) who said : "A man must be 
mad to think of flying machines ! " and he lived to see 
them as plentiful as sparrows. 

Without saying a word to me or even letting me know, 
in a few hasty hours Stead wrote in the " Review of 
Reviews " in February, 1910, the most extraordinarily 
accurate resume of every date and name connected with 
my career. It would have taken any other man a month. 
However, he made one great mistake in it. He only 
spoke in it, like all other things that have been said of 
me, of " The full corn in the ear ! " What really is a 
man's life is the endurance and the adversity and the 
non-recognition and the humiliating slights and the 
fighting morning, noon and night, of early life. That 
brings fortune. I like that word " fortune." Those 
inspired men who translated the Great Bible never said 
a thing " happened," they always said it " fortuned." 

I here insert a letter kindly lent me by Lord Esher. 
As it was written on the spur of the moment and out of 
the abundance of the heart, I give it verbatim. Esher 
loved Stead as much as I did. I knew it, and that's why 
I wrote to him. We felt a common affliction : — 

April 22, 1912. Hotel Excelsior, Naples. 

This loss of dear old Stead numbs me ! Cromwell 
and Martin Luther rolled into one. And such a big 
heart. Such great emotions. You must write something. 



All Fve read quite inadequate. The telegrams here say 
he was to the forefront with the women and children, 
putting them in the boats ! / can see him ! and probably 
singing " Hallelujah," and encouraging the ship's band to 
play cheerfully. He told me he would die in his boots. 
So he has. And a fine death. As a boy he had threepence 
a week pocket money. One penny bought Shakespeare 
in weekly parts, the other two pennies to his God for 
Missions. And the result was he became editor of a big 
newspaper at 22 ! And he was a Missionar}'- himself all 
his life. Fearless even when alone, believing in his God 
— the God of truth — and his enemies always rued it 
when they fought him. He was an exploder of " gas- 
bags " and the terror of liars. He was called a " wild 
man " because he said *' Two keels to one." He was at 
Berlin — the High Personage said to him : ** Don't be 
frightened ! " Stead replied to the All Highest : "Oh, 
no ! we won't ! for every Dreadnought you build we will 
build two I " That was the genesis of the cry " Two 
keels to one." I have a note of it made at the time for 
my " Reflections." But, my dear friend, put your concise 
pen to paper for our Cromwellian Saint. He deserves it. 

Yours always, 


" You cannot do anyone more good than by trying 
unsuccessfully to do him an injury," was one of the 
aphorisms of Lord Bailing (Sir Henry Bulwer) ; and it 
occurred to me forcibly on one occasion when I went to 
stay with my very great friend, Henry Labouchere (the 
proprietor of Truth. On the way I had been reading 
a peculiarly venomous attack on me in his paper ; and 
when he greeted me as affectionately as ever, I showed 
it to him, saying : " Don't put your arm on my shoulder ! 
Read that damned thing there ! " Labouchere glanced 



at it and replied, '* Where would you have been if I 
hadn't persistently maligned you ? " 

When I was with him at his villa at Florence, he used 
to smoke the most beastly cigarettes at ten a penny, yet 
he left over a million sterling, and was generous to absur- 
dity to those he loved. 

He had none but Italian servants ; he told me he was 
always extremely polite to them for the knife came so 
easy to them. He said he didn't realise this until, after 
he had had some words with an English friend, his 
Italian gardener, who had overheard the altercation, 
asked Labouchere if he would like him (the gardener) 
to deal with his friend, and he tapped the stiletto in his 

His own wit was as ready as his gardener's stiletto. 
On one occasion he was at Cologne railway station, and 
the Custom House Officer was turning his portmanteau 
inside out. Labouchere had a telegraph form in his 
pocket ; he wrote out a telegram with a stylographic pen 
and handed it to the official who was standing behind the 
Custom House Officer and told him it was a Government 
telegram. This was the telegram : 

Prince Bismarck, 


Can't dine with you to-night. Missed train through 
a damned ass of a Custom House Officer. Will let you 
have his name. 

Labouchere, Cologne. 

They offered him a special train. Labouchere had 



never seen Bismarck in his life. This was the occasion 
on which Labouchere was reprimanded by the Foreign 
Office for his delay in taking up his appointment as attach^ 
at St. Petersburg. His excuse was that the money 
allowed him only permitted his traveUing by railway as 
far as Cologne ; the rest of the way he walked. 

This book would be incomplete if I did not draw 
attention to the great debt the nation owes to three men 
yet unmentioned in this volume. 

Mr. George Lambert, M.P., twice refused office and 
sacrificed his political prospects and with a glorious 
victory sustained the whole Government effort to kick 
him out of Parliament ; but he conquered with a mag- 
nificent majority of over two thousand ! Why ? 

Because after serving for over seven years in the 
Admirahy he could speak of his own knowledge that the 
War administration and the fighting Sea Policy were 
shamefullv effete. 

The Recording Angel will mark down opposite Mr. 
Lambert's name : *' Well done, thou good and faithful 
servant ! " But may he also have his reward here and 
now, as many years of good work here belov/ may lie 
between him and Heaven as yet. 

Commodore Hugh Paget Sinclair is another ''Stalwart " 
of the War. His business was to provide the officers 
and men to man the Fleet— imagine the stupendous task 
that was his ! 

We never wanted for Officer or Man ! 
He is now Director of Naval Intelligence ; and may 
his ascent in the Navy be what is his splendid due ! 



Sir Alfred Yarrow I select for mention, for without 
him Mesopotamia would have been a bigger crime than 
it was, and throughout all ages it will be branded for 
gross and culpable and criminal ineptitude. If I was 
asked to name the Capturer of Bagdad I would unhesi- 
tatingly reply it was Sir Alfred Yarrow. 

The Navy has not had its due credit for the Capture of 
Bagdad. If Sir Alfred Yarrow with his usual astounding 
push, and without regard to red tape or thanks or recog- 
nition, had not sent those splendid light-draught gunboats 
of his to Mesopotamia, packed up in bits like portman- 
teaux, then Bagdad would not have been ours. The 
Viceroy of India sent us (acting on the advice he had 
received) the wrong draught of water. We ignored the 
Viceroy and all his crew. It took eighteen days to get 
this pressing vital business through the Government De- 
partments concerned. It took us one day to accomplish 
the whole procedure, with Sir Alfred Yarrow, and we 
chucked all the Departments. So 24 light-draught gun- 
boats grew up like Jonah's Gourd, which came up in a 
night (Jonah, iv, 10). 

I append a memorandum compiled from the Official 
papers : — 

History of Provision of 24 Light-draught Gunboats 

for Mesopotamia. 

Note. — These Vessels played a great part in the 
capture of Bagdad. 

January 9th, 19 15. — ^Telegram from Viceroy to India 



Office that Admiralty be asked to provide 4 gunboats — 
draught 4 J feet for Tigris.^ 

January nth, 191 5. — India Office asked Admirahy to 
meet Viceroy's wishes. 

January 29th, 1915.^ — Admirahy Departments sug- 
gested various types. War Staff proposed 3 from Egypt 
be sent. 

January 29th, 1915. — Lord Fisher ordered 24 light- 
draught gunboats. In order to save time, Captain [now 
Rear-Admiral Sir S. S.] Hall, R.N., (Lord Fisher's Sec- 
retary) was directed by Lord Fisher to co-operate with Mr. 
Yarrow^ and carry the operation through without reference 
to Admiralty Departments or any other Departments.^' 
January 29th, 191 5. — Conference held. Design settled.^ 
January 30th, 1915. TCaptain Hall toured the country 
February ist, 191 5. ] for likely firms to construct 

the 24 gunboats. 
February 2nd, 1915.^ — Proposals made for placing 
orders approved by Lord Fisher and First Lord, and 
orders were placed as follows : — 
12 Small by Yarrow. 
4 Large by Barclay Curie. 
2 Large by Lobnitz. 
2 Large by Ailsa Shipbuilding Co. 
2 Large by Wood Skinner. 
2 Large by Sunderland Shipbuilding Co. 

^ This shows how badly advised the Navy was by the India Office, 
as under 3 feet was vital, and the order was given accordingly. 

2 Eighteen days going through Departments. 

8 Mr. Yarrow had technical charge of the whole business and was the 
sole designer — and there was no paper work whatever, 

* All this action on the same day. 

^ All the rest of the required action taken in 4 days. 



February 8th, 1915. — Captain Hall was appointed 
Commodore-in-Charge of the Submarine Service, but 
was directed by Lord Fisher to continue supervision of 
the provision of 24 gunboats. 

Sir Alfred Yarrow ought (like Mr. Schwab) to have 
been made a Duke, and I wrote to Sir John Jellicoe, 
when he was First Sea Lord, and told him so. 

The history of the Flotillas of light-draught gunboats 
built both for Mesopotamia and the Danube will ever 
be associated with the good service done by Sir Alfred 
Yarrow, and for which he was only made a Baronet. 
Those built for the Tigris led our Army to Bagdad and 
far beyond, and were at times unsupported far ahead of 
the military force ; and without any question whatever 
without them the Mesopotamian muddle could never have 
emerged into a glorious victory. The speed with which 
these vessels were constructed and despatched in small 
parcels to Mesopotamia and there put together in an 
extemporary dockyard arranged by Sir Alfred Yarrow's 
staff was as much a feature as any other part of their 
production. It necessitated masses of natives of different 
religious persuasions being gathered together to assist 
the skilled artizans in bolting the pieces together and 
launching them on the Tigris. Their differing hours 
of prayer were a disturbing element in the rapidity of the 
construction ; but my splendid friend the foreman from 
the Scotstoun Yard of Messrs. Yarrow contrived a prayer 
compromise. The Danube Flotilla arranged for with 
a number of other builders was equally remarkable ; 
and Commodore (now Admiral) Bartolome wrote 



me a commendatory letter of their good service 

I must also mention Commodore (now Admiral) 
Sir S. S. Hall, but for whose continual journeys from 
shipyard to shipyard these vessels would never have been 
delivered on the scene of action in the time required. 

Within six months all these Flotillas were thought of 
— designed — built — and in service, and nothing gave 
me intenser delight than the visit I paid to these craft 
as they were all built and then taken to pieces for transit 
to their destination in packages that any motor car could 
have transported. 

The world at large can have little conception of the 
remarkability of those comparatively large hulls with 
good speed and practically drawing but a few inches of 
water — the propellers (which were too large in diameter 
for the depth of water) being made by an ingenious 
device to revolve in a well above the water-line, the water 
being drawn up by suction. I thought to myself as I 
viewed these miracles of ingenuity and rapidity : 
*' England can never succumb." 




" I have culled a Garland of Flowers — 
Mine is the string that binds them." 

* * * 

Thou shalt not kill, but needst not strive 
Officiously to keep alive ! 

(When catching Submarines). 

* * * 

Seest thou a man diligent in business — he shall stand 
before Kings — he shall not stand before mean men. 

* « # 

God who cannot be unjust, 
Heedeth all who on Him trust. 
Them who call on Him for aid, 
Anguish shall not make afraid. 
Trust him then in life. In death 
He can give thee Living Breath ! 
After death the Life now thine 
He can make the Life Divine. 

I never bother to bother about anyone who doesn't 
bother to bother about me ! 

* # * 


I Portrait by J. Mallia &^ Co. , Valetta. 


" Put on the impenetrable armour of contempt and 


* * * 

When danger threatens and the foeman nigh, 
" God and our Navy / " is the Nation's cry. 
But^ the danger over and the Country righted, 

God is forgotten and the Sailor sHghted. 

* * * 

Never fight a Chimney Sweep ; some of the soot comes 

off on you. 

« * * 

Pas de Cuke sans mystere. 

* * * 

Ode to an Apple — 

Newton saw an apple fall, 
Eve an apple did enthral ; 
It played the devil with us all, 

The Devil making Eve to fall. 

* * * 

" Liberty of Conscience " means doing wrong but not 
worrying about it afterwards. 

m * * 

*' Tact " is insulting a man without his knowing it. 

« * * 

Even a man's faults may reflect his virtues. 

* * * 

Sincerity is the road to Heaven. 

* * * 

I thought it would be a good thing to be a missionary, 
but I thought it would be better to be First Sea Lord. 


273 T 


Think in Oceans — shoot at sight. 

* # * 

Big conceptions and Quick Decisions. 

* # # 
Napoleonic in Audacity. 
Cromwellian in Thoroughness. 
Nelsonic in Execution. 

* # # 

*' Surprise " the pith and marrow of war ! 

* * # 

Audacity and Imagination beget surprise. 

* * # 

Rashness in war is Prudence. 

* # # 

Prudence in war is ImbeciHty. 

* * * 

Hit first ! Hit hard ! Keep on hitting ! ! (The 3 H's). 

* # # 

The 3 Requisites for Success — Ruthless, Relentless, 
Remorseless (The 3 R's). 

m * m 

BUSINESS — Call on a Business man in Business hours 
only on Business. Transact your Business and go about 
your Business, in order to give him time to finish his 
Business, and you time to mind your own Business. 
[I had this printed on cards, one of which was handed 
to every caller on me at the Admiralty.] 

* # * 



The Nelsonic Attributes — 

(a) Self Reliance. 

(b) Power of Initiative. 

(c) Fearlessness of Responsibility, 

(d) Fertility of Resource. 

* # # 

Originality never yet led to Preferment. 

* * « 

Mediocrity is the Road to Honour. 

# # # 

Repetition is the Soul of Journalism. 

# # # 

No difficulty baffles great zeal. 

* * * 

The Pavement of Life is strewn with Orange Peel. 

* m * 

Inconsistency is the bugbear of Silly Asses. 

# # # 

Never Deny : Never Explain : Never Apologise. 

«: # # 

** To defy Power that seems omnipotent . . . 
Never to change, nor falter, nor repent." 


# # # 

Cardinal RampoUa got his Hat at a younger age than 
any preceding Cardinal. Asked to account for his 
phenomenal success, he replied : — It's due to 3 things : 

asked for 


I never 


275 T 2 


The best scale for an experiment is 12 inches to a foot. 

• # * 

Dread Nought is over 80 times in the Bible (" Fear 
Not "). So I took as my motto '' Fear God and Dread 


• * * 

Moltke wrote as follows : 

" A clever militar\- leader will succeed in many cases in 
choosing defensive positions of such an offensive nature 
from a strategic point of view that the opponent is com- 
pelled to attack us in them." 

• • * 

In looking through a packet of ancient papers I find 
some vouthful thoughts of my own and some others 
which evidently I thought ven,- choice. 

" -\nnhing said before a lecture muddles it." 
" An}thing after weakens it ! " 

• * * 

" There is nothing you can't have if you want it 


• * * 

The follo\^4ng extract is from Blake : 

*' He who bends to himself a joy, 
Does the winged life destroy ; 
But he who kisses the joy as it flies 
Lives in Eternits''s Sunrise." 

• • • 

Dean Swift satirized the vulgar exclusiveness of those 



who desired the infinite meadows of Heaven only to be 
frequented by the reHgious sect they adorned on earth : 

" We are God's chosen few ! 
All others will be damned ! 
There is no place in Heaven for you, 
We can't have Heaven crammed 1 " 
* • • 

Lord Bailing (Sir Henry Bulwer) codified his life in 
axioms and phrases. His intimate friend, Sir Drummond 
Wolff, says so. (By the way, Wolff's father was a mar- 
vellous Bible scholar. I heard him preach the sermon of 
my life : it was extempore, on *' The Resurrection." A 
great friend of his told me that Wolff did really know 
the Bible by heart.) These are Lord Balling's sayings ; 
he quotes Talleyrand for one of his rules of life : 

" Acknowledge the receipt of a book from the author 
at once : this relieves you of the necessity of saying 
whether you have read it." 

Again this is excellent : 

" You cannot do anyone more good than by trying 
unsuccessfully to do him an injury." (Mr. Labouchere 
gave me the same reason for attacking me in his paper 


" Nothing is so foolish as to be wise out of season. 

" The best trait in a man's character is an anxiety to 
serve those who have obliged him once and can do so 

no more." 

# • * 

Nelson's Ipsissima Verba. 

" Do not imagine I am one of those hot-brained 
people who fight at an immense disadvantage without 
an adequate object ... in a week's time I shall get 



reinforcements and the enemy will get none, and then I 
must annihilate him." 

It was not *' Victory " that Nelson ever desired. It 
was *' Annihilation I " 

tF ^F ^p 

Moses, Gideon and Cromwell. 

Moses and Gideon were each of them summoned straight 
from their simple daily task to go and help their fellow 
countrymen, and both were able to perform the task 
allotted to them in spite of their first great doubts of their 
fitness for the work. The figure of Moses looms through 
the Ages as gigantic as the Pyramids, and nearer home 
and in a lesser sphere stands our English Cromwell, the 
Great Protector ! 

" I would have been glad," said Cromwell, " to have 
lived on my woodside or kept a flock of sheep rather 
than have undertaken a government like this." And 
yet in the end he had undertaken it because he said he 
** had hoped he might prevent some imminent evil." 

*rr *ff "ff 


The nine Muses were all women. 
The three Graces were all women. 

* * * 

A great philosopher has stated that a woman can be 
classed under two categories : 

1 . A mother, a mistress and a friend ; or, 

2. A comrade and queen and child. 

A woman is really rooted in physical reality, and all 



the above six attributes of the philosopher always live 
in her. 

Thus the Song of Solomon produced a passionate 
commodity, but it required the Mary Magdalene of the 
Gospel to express the summum honum of a woman of 
" Greatly Loving." 

In the first prayer book of a.d. 1549 there was a Collect 
for her ! No other woman had a Collect except the 
Virgin Mary. 

Emotion, self-surrender, selflessness, immortal cour- 
age, wondrous physical beauty ! Mary Magdalene was a 
great human reality. It is quite obvious she was no 
debauchee or her Beauty would have failed, nor could 
she have been a " hardened " sinner or she would have 
scoffed ! 

What was her history ? What caused her lapse ? Who 
was her Betrayer } 

** Her sins, which are many, are forgiven ; for she 
loved much. Verily I say unto you. Wheresoever this 
Gospel shall be preached in the whole world, there shall 
also this, that this woman hath done, be told for a me- 
morial of her." 

And is it not very striking that St. Peter, who dictated 
St. Mark's Gospel, records in the i6th chapter, verse 9, 
of St. Mark, that the first person in the world to whom 
the Saviour showed Himself after His Resurrection was 
Mary Magdalene ? 

" Now when Jesus was risen early the first day of the 
week. He appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of 
whom he had cast seven devils. And she went and told 



them that had been with Him as they mourned and 
wept. And they, when they heard that He was aHve 
and had been seen of her, believed not." 

• • • 
A Sun-Dial that I Love. 

Que Dieu eclaire les heures que je perds. 
(May God light up the hours that I fail to light.) 

• • « 
Though hidden yet from all our eyes. 
He sees the Gideon who shall rise 
To save us and His sword. 




It is stated that the historian, Lecky, O.M. (I assisted 
at the operation of his receiving the Order of Merit) 
gave more thought and time to the book of his last years, 
" The Map of Life," than to any other of all his works, 
and it is said that for three years he kept on revising 
the last of its chapters. 

The book was derided to me by a literary friend of 
great eminence as being " The Pap of Life ! " I read 
its last chapters with great avidity. If for nothing 
else, the book is worthy of immortality for the reason 
that it so emphasises those great words of Dryden as 
being appropriate to the close of a busied life — 

" Not Heaven itself upon the past has Power, 
What has been has been, and I have had my hour." 

Whenever (as I often do) I pass Dryden's bust in 
Westminster Abbey I invariably thank him for those 

Mr. Lecky urges his readers to leave the active scenes 
of life in good time and not to *' Lag superfluous on the 



Stage " (I believe Mr. Gladstone recommended this 
also, but didn't do it I). 

To illustrate Mr. Lecky we have that great and 
splendid Trio of Translation to Heaven at the very zenith 
of their powers. Elijah was hurrying along (that great, 
hairy, weird old man) so that Elisha could hardly keep 
pace with him, and he is suddenly caught up in a Chariot 
of Fire to Heaven ! I ask, " Was not Nelson's leaving 
this earth quite a similar glorious departure ? " 

*' Partial firing continued until 4.30 p.m. when a 
victory having been reported to Admiral Lord Viscount 
Nelson, K.B., and Commander-in-Chief, he THEN 
died of his Wound." 

Moses (with whom I am now more particularly con- 
cerned) also left this life in a similar glorious way, for 
God was his companion when his Spirit left this Earth, 
and it markedly is recorded of Moses that — 

" His eye was not dim, 
Nor his natural force abated ! " 

Mr. Lecky doesn't quote my three men above. I 
consider them superior to Noah, Daniel and Job, who 
are the three named in Scripture as being so dear to the 
pious man. Ezekiel, chapter xiv., verse 14. 

I reiterate that the advice of the derided Lecky seems 
to me excellent, to leave active life at one's zenith, and 
thus anticipate senility. 

The Archbishop of Seville is a lovely story by Cervantes. 
All Spain came to hear him preach. Indeed he had 
to preach every day, the crowds were so great, and he 



said to his faithful Secretary : " Tell me when you 
notice me waning, for a man never knows it himself.'* 
The Secretary did so, and the Archbishop gave him the 
sack ! Yes ! The Archbishop had passed the Rubicon, 
and this dismissal was the proof. Having this fear, 
I left Office on my birthday in 1910, though for a few 
short months in 19 14 I enjoyed the " dusky hues of glori- 
ous war," and exceedingly delighted myself in those 
seven months in arranging a new Armada against Germany 
of 612 vessels, and in sending Admiral von Spee and 
all his ships to the bottom of the sea. 

The following much-prized lines were sent me on the 
Annihilation of Admiral von Spec's Squadron off the 
Falkland Islands on December 8th, 19 14. He had 
sunk Admiral Cradock's Squadron five weeks before. 
The " Dreadnought " Battle Cruisers, " Inflexible " and 
" Invincible," sent to sink von Spee, made a passage of 
14,000 miles without a hitch and arrived just a few 
hours before von Spee. It was a timely arrangement : — 

From the President of Magdalen College, Oxford, 
Sir Herbert Warren (Professor of Poetry). 

Merserat Ex-spe Spem, rediit spes, mergitur Ex-spes. 

" Von Spee sent the ' Good Hope ' to the bottom : 
hope revived ; he is sunk himself, without hope." 

From Mr. Godley, the Public Orator at Oxford 

Hoc tibi Piscator Patria debet opus. 

" Your country owes this exploit to you, O Fisher ! " 



But that Great Providence, that shapes our course, 
rough hew it how we will, ordained my departure from 
the conduct of the War. Amongst the masses of regretful 
letters at my departure I choose one from an Admiral 
then 88 years old, who satisfies the great Dr. Weir 
Mitchell's dictum of the clear brain becoming clearer 
with age. This Admiral annexed a Continent for 
England, abounding in riches in New Guinea ; but he 
got no thanks ; and England gave away his gift. But 
his name lives there. I conclude with his letter : — 

Dear Old Fisher, 

It is marvellous how all variations of our lives are 
unravelled by Divine Inspiration that cannot err, 
" No one can ' hustle ' Providence." 
(That's one of your sayings !) 
Think of Moses I 

" He was the truest warrior that ever buckled sword. 
He the most gifted Poet that ever breathed a word : 
And never Earth's Philosopher traced with his golden pen, 
On the Deathless Page, truths half so sage as he wrote down for 
men ; 

Yet no man knows his sepulchre, and no man saw it e'er. 
For the Angels of God up-turned the sod and laid the Dead Man 

Moses saved his people. He prepared them for the 
conquest in which he was to take no part. He was the 
meekest man on earth, yet he could be the most ruthless ! 

Doubtless you saved England at the Falkland Islands. 

Doubtless you prepared our Fleet tor this war ! 
(Nothing to boast of ! You the clay in the hands of the 
Potter !) And it seems likely that some Joshua will 



reap what you have sown ! Yet history will put it 

" lonely grave in Moab's land! O dark Beth-Peor's hill ! 
Speak to these curious hearts of ours and teach them to be still ! 

Ever faithfully yours, 

(Signed) J. Moresby. 




^ Balfour, Rt. Hon. A. J., 36, 64, 

82, 182, 210 
Abdul Hanoid, 56 ; the Pope and, ^^^aby. Sir Nathaniel, 263, 
91 et seg., 204, 206 255 ; letter to Lord Fisher, 

Aboukir Bay, French Fleet in, 256-267 

161 Bamardo, Dr., 160 

Adalbert, Prince, 230 Bartolom^, Admiral Sir Charles 

Adams, John, editor of " The New *^®' ■^^*' 270 

Teaching," 261 n. Battenberg, Prince Louis of, 

Admiralty clerks and the Naval ^^^ 

War Staff, 102 et seq. Beatty, Lord, 37, 40, 121 

Aircraft, 124 et seq. Beilby, Sir George, 116 

Alcester, Lord, 140 Beit, Mr., 4, 33, 34, 182 

Alexandra, Queen, 12, 20, 198, 238 ^ei^bow. Admiral, 163 
Alfonso, Kong, 237-238, 258 Bernstorff, Count von, 210 

Americans, 221 et seq. Bieberstein, Marschall von, 204, 

Anderson, Mr. J. W. S., Ill 205 

Angell, Mr. Norman, 126, 211 Birdwood, General Sir William 

Arbuthnot, Sir R., 60 R-» 82 

Arnold- Forster, Rt. Hon. H. O., Bismarck, Prince, 229 

169-171,179 *' "Blucher," sinking of the, 149- 

Asquith, Rt. Hon. H. H., 42, 50, ^^^ 

68, 59, 70, 74, 196, 199 Booth, General, 160 

Borden, Rt. Hon. Sir R. L., 218 
Botha, General, 136, 263 
g Boys, Admiral, 168 

Bridgeman, Admiral Sir Francis, 
246, 247 
Bacon, Admiral Sir Reginald, Bridgman, Mr., 92 
_ ^^*' ^28 Bright, John, 23, 100, 223, 226- 

Baddeley, Mr. V W., Ill 227, 256 

*WM0BnS8 o 



Bristol, Marquis of, 258 

Brock, Commander, at Zeebrugge, 

Bryce, Lord, 205 
Buckle, Mr., 181 
Bulwer, Sir Hem-y, see Bailing, 

Byron, Lord, 92, 102 


Caillaux, M., 209 

Caldwell, Major- General Sir 

Charles, 83, 84 
Callaghan, Admiral Sir George A., 

37, 39 
Campbell -Bannerman, Sir H., 42, 

176, 182, 183, 256 
Canning, Sir Stratford, 95 
Garden, Admiral Sir Sackville H , 

79, 82 
Cartagena, 237-239 
Cavendish, Lady Frederick, 260 
Cawley, Lord, 56 
Cervantes, 282-283 
Chalmers, Dr., 153 
Choate, Mr., 17 

Churchill, Mr. Winston, 36, 41, 60, 

52, 65-59, 63, 64, 66, 67, 71-73, 

81, 124, 127, 183, 196, 198, 206, 

207, 212-214, 246 

Clark, Mr. Champ, 202 

Clarke, Sir George, 16, 165, 169, 

173, 179, 196 
Clemenceau, M., 209 
Corbett, Sir Julian, 2 n., 101 
Cornwallis, Admiral, 163 
Cradock, Admiral, 135, 136, 283 
Crease, Captain, 104 
Cromer, Lord, 56, 60, 70, 76, 94 
CromweU, Oliver, 107, 278 


Dalling, Lord, 265, 277 

" Daniell cell," the, 140 

Daniels, Mr. Josephus, 225 

Dardanelles, the, 49 et seq. 

Denbigh, Lord, 10 

Depew, Mr. Chauncey, 224 

DUko, Sir Charles, 16 

DisraeU, 25, 101 

Dogger Bank incident, the, 65, 71, 

Dryden, 281 
Dumanoir, Admiral, 162 
Dundonald, Lord, 146, 163 


Ellison, General Sir C, 166, 

Empress Marie, 198 
Eshor, Lord, 6, 12 ; letter to 

Lord Fisher, 13; 33, 34; 

Lord Fisher's letters to, 165 

et seq. 

Falkenhayn, General von, 97 
Fisher, Mr. Andrew, 61, 69 
Fitzgerald, Admiral, 263 
Flint, Mr., 110 
Franklin, Benjamin, 163 n 
Frederick the Great, 34 



French, Lord, 57, 58, 69, 169, Hankey, Sir Maurice, 58, 84, 74, 
172-174, 188 194 

Hanotaux, M., 187 
Harcourt, Sir William Vernon, 
186, 216 
Q Hawke, Admiral Lord, 163 

Hawthorne, 115 
C d Mr 122 Henderson, Admiral Sir Reginald, 

Gardiner,'Mr. A. G., 53 xr^^f"" ^f a .u ah 

Garibaldi. visit of, to the Henderson, Mr. Arthur, 47 

"Warrior" 150 Hertz German eubmarme mine 

Garvin, Mr. J. L., 187 J^^' 130, 151 
German Emperor on Lord Fisher, Hertzog, General, 136 

go igo Hildyard, General, 169 

Girouard. Sir E. P. C, 166 Hindenburg, Field-Marshal von, 

Gladstone, Mr., 41, 42, 244, 259, ^4, 106 

260, 261, 282 
Gladstone, Mrs., 260 
Godley, Mr., 283 
Goschen, Viscount, 107, 139 
Grand Duke Nicholas, 52, 79 
Granville, Lord, 205 
Greene, Sir Graham, 111 
Grey, Lord, 18, 96, 189, 190, 

Qrierson, General, 172 
Quazzo, Steven, 35 

Hood, Admiral Sir Horace, 

Hood, Admiral Viscoimt, 60, 

Hornby, Admiral Sir GeofEi-ey 

Phipps, 65-66, 71, 93, 228 
House, Colonel, 45 
Howe, Admiral, 163 
Hvish Hush ships, 98-101, 243, 



Haddock, Commodore, 144, 145 

Haig, Lord, 172 

Haldane, Lord, 102, 104, 106, 

Hall, Admiral Sir S. S., 269-271 
Hall, Admiral W. H., 103 
Hall, Rear-Admiral Sir William 

Reginald, 85 
Hamilton, Sir Ian, 83, 215 

Inge, Dean, 51 

Ingenohl, Admiral von, 32 

Inglefield, Admiral Sir Frederick 

S., 168 
Ismay, Mr. 145 
Isvolsky, M., 182, 187,233 

Hamilton, Lady, 158 

Hamilton, Lord George, 242, 243, Jackson, Admiral Sir Henry B., 
244 40 



Jellicoe, Lord, 30, 31, 36-40, 64, Lecky, Rt. Hon. W. E. H., 281, 

74, 105, 208-210, 270 282 

Johnson, Abraham, 148-149 Leishman, Mr. John G. A., Ameri- 

Jones, Commodore Oliver, 146 can Ambassador to Germany, 

204, 205 
Lincoln, Abraham, 261, 262 
Lister, Lord, 250 
K Lloyd George, Mr., 55, 66, 69, 

81 n., 131, 186, 204, 213, 215- 
Kelly-Kenny, General, 174 ^ ^17, 223 

Kelvin, Lord, 143, 193, 251 et ^oubet President. 12, 236 

Ludendorfi, General von, 32, 97, 

Lyttelton, Sir N., 66 



Kerr, Lord Walter, 140 

Key, Sir Cooper, 143 

Kiamil Pasha, 93 96, 239 

Kiel Canal, the, 19, 130, 131 

Kiderlen-Waechter, von, 204 

Kiernan, John, 147-148 

King Edward, 1 et seq. ; letter 

from author to, 3-4 ; his tact, McClintock, Admiral Sir Leopold, 

6-7; 25, 51, 113, 117, 184, 186, 143 

187, 191, 192, 198-199, 203, McCrea, Mr., 222 

207, 211, 225, 226, 232, 234, 236, Macgregor, Sir Evan, 111 

237, 260 McKenna, Mr. Reginald, 41, 43, 

King William, 229 44, 62, 186, 193-197, 199-201, 

Kitchener, Lord, 50, 52, 57, 59, 206, 207. 

65, 67, 74, 79, 80, 83, 104, 105, McKenna, Mrs. Reginald, 43 
176, 198, 199, 241 Mackenzie, Sir Thomas, 61-62, 70 

KnoUys, Sir Francis, 3, 20, 21, Macnamara, Dr. T. J., 42, 44 

171, 193 
Knox, Mr. Philander, 205 
Kruger, Paul, 169 
Kuropatkin, M., 187 

Labouchere, Mr. Henry, 266-267 
Lambert, Mr. George, 267 
Lansdowne, Lord, 82 
Latimer, Bishop, 120 
Law, Mr. Bonar, 82 
Learmonth, Admiral, 132 

Madden, Admiral Sir Charles, 

Magee, Archbishop, 151 
Mahan, Admiral, 5, 37, 187, 216 
Maxim, Sir Hiram, 227, 228, 250 
Maxse, Mr. Leo, 182 
Maxwell, General, 172 
Mears, Sir Grimwood, Secretary 

to the Dardanelles Commission , 

Merchant Navy, the, 119-120 
Milne, Mr., 139 
Mitchell, Dr. Weir, 284 
Moltke, Field-Marshal Count, 229, 

230, 276 



Moresby, Admiral J., letter to 

Lord Fisher, 284-285 
Morgenthau, Mr. H., 84 
Morley, Lord, 216, 262 
Munro, General Sir Charles, 85 
Murray, Mr. George, 199 
Mvirray, Sir Oswyn, 111 


Naples, Queen of, 158 
Napoleon, 18, 44, 162, 201 
Naval War Stafis and Admiralty 

clerks, 102 et seq. 
Nelson, 18, 25-27, 51, 66, 105, 

107, 109, 111, 117, 142, 147, 

158 et seq. 
Nicholson, Field-Marshal Lord, 

65, 85 
Nicholson, Mr. W. F., 103 
Northbrook, Lord, 156, 157, 244, 



O'Connell, Daniel, 260 
Oldenburg, Grand Duke of, 229, 

Olga, Grand Duchess, 231, 232 ; 

letter to Lord Fisher, 233-234 
Oliver, Admiral Sir Henry, 104 
Orde, Sir John, 244 
Orloff, Prince, 2, 234 

Palmerston, Lord, 203 
Parker, Sir Hyde, 66 
Parsons, Sir Charles, 249 

Pepya, Samuel, 111 

Perrin, Mr, W. G., Ill 

Petersen, Mr., 119 

Phillips, Mr. J. F., Ill 

Pitt, Mr., 18, 36, 203 

Plumer, General, 32, 172, 174 

Pohl, Admiral von, 29 et seq. 

Pohl, Frau von, 30-32, 105 

Polsonare family, the, 162 

Pope, the, and Abdul Hamid, 

91 et aeq. 
Probyn, Sir Dighton, 20 


Queen Alexandra, 12, 20, 198, 

Queen Victoria, 156, 157 


Rawlinson, Sir Henry, 119 

Redesdale, Lord, letter to Lord 
Fisher, 14 

Reich, Herr von, on " Dread- 
noughts," 14: et seq. 

Reid, Sir George, 199 

Reval, 231 et seq. 

Rhodes, Cecil, 34, 35 

Richmond, Captain, 104 

Ridley, Bishop, 120 

Roberts, Lord, 53, 183 

Roch, Mr. W. F., 62 

Rodney, Admiral, 163 

Roon, Count von, 229 

Roosevelt, Mr., 23 

Rosebery, Lord, 27, 44, 49, 55, 
138, 158, 162, 248 

Rothschild, Lord, 244 

Roxisseau, M., 187 

Rozhdestvensky, Admiral, 107 



Runciman, Mr. Walter, 44 
Russia, Emperor of, 191, 261 



St. Vincent, Lord, 181 
Salisbury, Lord, 94, 204 
Sampson, Admiral, 225 
Samuel, Mr. Herbert, 42 
Samuel, Sir Marcus, 116 
Sanders, Marshal Liman von, 85, 

Scapa Flow, 31 
Schreiner, Mr. G. A., 84 
Schwab, Mr., 270 
Schwartzhofi, Gross von, 105, 

106, 212 
Scott, Mr. Robert Falconer, 163 n. 
Scott, Sir Percy, 248, 249 
Seely, General, 216 
Selborne, Lord, 170, 245, 246 
Shipbiiilding, new, inaugurated 

by Lord Fisher, 86 ef seq. 
Sinclair, Commodore Hugh Paget, 

Slade, General F. G., 174, 175 
Smith, Sir F. E., 183 
Smith, Sir Thomas, 250 
Smith-Dorrien, General, 169, 172, 

Some Personalities, 242 et seq. 
Southey, 249 

Special Missions, some, 229 et seq. 
Spee, Admiral von, 36, 78, 135, 

136, 283 
Spencer, Lord, 242, 244, 245 
Stead, Mr. W. T., 35, 170, 171, 

197, 249, 2G2, 263, 264 
Stolypin, M., 187, 231, 236-237 
Stopford, Sir F., 172 
Submarines, Lord Fisher's Memo- 
randum on, 88-90 
Swift, Dean, 276 

Taft, Mr., 202 

TaU, Isaac, 151 

Taylor, Bishop Jeremy, 114 

Tennyson -D'Eyncourt, Sir Bus- 

tace, 257-259 
Thomas, Mr. Holt, 126, 126 
Thompson, Mr., 224 
Thomson, Sir William, see Kelvin, 

Tirpitz, Admiral von, 16, 29 e^ seq., 

97, 184 
Togo, Admiral, 107 
Treves, Sir Frederick, 249-251 
Troubridge, Sir Thomas, 165, 161 
Try on. Sir George, 146 
Tweedmouth, Lord, 5 
Tyrwhitt, Sir Reginald Yorke, 


Villa Vieja, Marquis de, 233 


Walker, Sir Charles, 1 1 1 

Warburton, Eliot, 27 

War Council Meetings, Lord 
Fisher's notes of his special 
intervention at, 78 e^ seq. 

Ward, Sir Joseph, 193 

Warren, Sir Herbert, 283 

Washington, George, 223, 226 

Watts, Dr., 114 

Watts, Sir Philip, 187, 257-269 

Weymouth, Admiral, 122 



White, Mr. Arnold, 263 Y 

White, Sir WUliam, 95 

Wilmot, Admiral Sir S. Eardley, Yarrow, Sir Alfred, 116, 268 

letter to Lord Fisher, 129 et eeq. 

Wilson, Mr. A. K., 199, 206 Yelverton, Sir Hastings, 231 

Wilson, Sir Arthur, 102, 183, 194, 

196, 197, 200, 246, 247 
Wilson, Mr. Havelock, 119-120 

Wilson, President, 202, 222 2 

W^olff, Sir Drummond, 277 
Woolward, Captain Robert, 144 Zeebnigge, 50, 68, 75, 79, 81, 119 


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